Types of Relationship
1. Pure transactional
Pure transactional relationships exist where the purchase of the product or service is in the context of a single event and it’s unlikely that repeat purchases will be made or, where repeat purchases are made, that the relationship does not have to be different in order for that to happen. For example, most consumable items are pure transactional purchases, and those things that are in highly priced competitive markets that have been truly commoditized will also, generally, be purely transactional. Purely transactional relationships are by far the cheapest to support.
2. Initial Transactional
Initial Transactional relationships are where the product or service is designed to enable the purchase in a commoditized style whilst enabling the company to identify and begin relationship building with the customer. An example here might be a business which has a pipeline product designed to attract potential long-term customers to experience one aspect of business: it could be a free article, an eBook, a swift analysis or health check, etc. The sale of the product itself is purely transactional, as already described, but the record of the transaction is part of the longer-term relationship that begins to form.
3. Business Relational
Business relational relationships are when the client / customer and your business engage both during the sales process, at sales time, throughout delivery, and often beyond. An example here might be a business that provides a mentoring service where, as part of the sales process, they’ll build an understanding of the nature of the business of their potential customer, their needs and the activities that they undertake, and through delivery will enhance and develop that relationship further, building on the business knowledge they need to provide the service effectively.
4. Social Relational
In social relationships the understanding between the two businesses goes beyond that of focusing on the product and / or the delivery of the service and involves building personal knowledge around shared social experience. This is more than just the occasional business lunch or dinner, but may involve what has euphemistically become known as ‘corporate entertainment’ or the occasional game of golf or visit to a sports event or the theatre. Social relationships require more trust and shared interests as well as common ground on the business front.
5. Personal Relational
Personal relationships grow from developing a strong sense of trust from understanding each other in both a business and social environment and a willingness to open the doors to family and friends and share experience in times of difficulty as well as in times of enjoyment. Personal relationships usually take several years to develop and imply that the business relationship and social relationships are strong.
How Relationships Help BusinessUnderstanding the relationships that you seek to build with your customers, clients and associates enables you to build the right strategies and frameworks to enable those relationships to develop quickly. For example, if your business operates purely transactionally, you would not build into your marketing strategies opportunities to build relationships, equally if your aim is to build strong personal relationships with all of your clients you will recognise that your marketing, sales and delivery strategies need to incorporate the opportunities to develop shared knowledge, to experience social events together, and ultimately to build an understanding of each other’s families and friends, birthdays and so on. Recognising that your intention is to achieve those relationships will change the nature of the way you do deliver your products and service, and so thinking through how those relationships should be formed is important.
At Abelard our aim is to build long-term, trusted, deep personal relationships with all of our clients and share not just their business journey but also their personal one, and that’s perhaps the nature of a mentoring and consulting business. Of course, not all relationships do end up being personal, but we design our strategies to enable that to happen if our clients choose to continue to share the journey with us. Of course, we also have products which can be purchased transactionally and act as entry points to working with us, and that is all part of the relationship strategy that we operate.
I’m not suggesting that all of these relationship types should be an active part of your business strategy, far from it, just that by understanding what each type of relationship is and mapping your products and services, clients and customers from partners and associates across the relationship matrix enables you to design and build a better, more robust and more successful strategy.