TBS.10.08.15As you conduct your business, you will find a myriad of folks you will interact with, and their cooperation and support are crucial to your success. Simply having a killer product at an unbeatable price just isn’t good enough to guarantee success. You must gain the trust of everyone you do business with whether they are a buyer or a supplier. Here are some essential elements of business relationship building that worked for us:

  1. Time: For years we called on a big buyer who never gave us an order. But when he finally did buy, he bought big! We asked why he hesitated, and he said he had to get to know us first. He said our persistence proved we were dependable! When we asked a supplier for a higher credit limit they initially said no. But after years of sharing our plans with them quarterly, generally making timely payments, and calling in advance when we were late with a plan to bring us up to date, they dramatically increased our credit. Time is the ingredient that turns an acquaintance into a trusting supplier or buyer who will work with you to help grow your business.
  1. Integrity. Do what you say you are going to do. Show up when you say you are going to. Honor your pricing and delivery dates, even when it hurts. Be reliable. Remember, you are judged by your behavior and that behavior can make the difference between business as usual or a growing business. Your buyers and creditors want to trust you. They make money when you are dependable, so give them no reason to worry about your company. Eventually we had buyers who said, “Keep me in stock on your products and let me know when you want to promote them.” That relationship was built on integrity.
  1. Empathy. Put yourself in your customers’ and suppliers’ shoes. Find out what is important to them. From your buyers, find out the products and suppliers they like and why, and the ones they don’t and why. From your suppliers, understand their concerns extending you credit. Have their interest at heart. Demonstrate this with suggestions, products, and the kind of dependability that puts their fears at ease. If you show that you are concerned about their needs, sooner or later you will find an opportunity to provide them with a solution that solves their concerns – and yours!
  1. Resolution. When there’s a problem, solve it quickly and in a way that makes the offended party whole. Then show them how you will prevent the problem from reoccurring. Remember, you are judged more by what you do when you’re “bad” than what you do when you’re “good.” So go beyond just apologizing and “make it good.” Make up for the time and hassle you caused, even if it costs you to do so. That will impress them more than a hundred great performances where everything went smoothly.
  1. Loyalty. Give special treatment to the buyers and suppliers who took a chance on you and your product. Think twice before making a move that may hurt anyone’s business with whom you have been working with for years. Remember, they helped you and were expecting to benefit by your growth and success. When suppliers and buyers help you get off the ground, look for a ways to keeps your relationship strong, and give them your loyalty.

Sure, there’s more but these are the deal breakers when they are missing, and they cement the relationship when they are followed. Building relationships is the most important part of successful business. Take the time and show them what you are made of. It doesn’t cost, it pays!


Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact sales@thebarefootspirit.com.