How to Build Working Relationships 24th April, 2012

Many companies feel that sales people are the face of the company and therefore are the only ones who need to foster relationships.  This could not be farther from the truth.  As the divide between marketing and sales grows thinner it becomes increasingly important for everyone to appreciate developing and growing working relationships – this includes the creative executive designing ads in an agency to the marketing manager in a brand.  Collaboration is not just necessary in smaller communities – it is everywhere.  It exists within your office as well as outside of your office – between departments and between agencies.

At Slingshot Sponsorship, building relationships is not just a service we provide; it’s the vital component to our business’s survival.  Fortunately, we are blessed with amazing, talented clients and sponsors so our job is not too difficult; however, there are some key tips we use to help us build lasting working relationships:

1.  TRANSPARENCY – Far too often there are too many secret squirrel discussions going on – between the agency, client, brand, creative team, etc.  But 99% of the time everyone is trying to achieve the same objective and so being transparent highlights where there are gaps in misunderstanding.  Sorting these gaps out early helps speed up the project.  Transparancy can also highlight where people have been given different information, which can also be the reason for delays.

In our sponsorship agency, we like to be transparent with everything – from the prices of our sponsorship proposals to the rates we charge our clients.  There is a value to everything we do and everything we sell; therefore the need to hide pricing is unnecessary.  For example, you wouldn’t pay £7 for a bag of Haribo because it’s not worth that (unless you were in a ski resort in the Alps).

2.  COMMUNICATE – This goes without saying, but communication is an obvious way to build relationships.  Furthermore, by communicating with your clients/sponsors/agencies you can find out changes within the business faster than by reading about it on the latest edition of Marketing Week.  This not only helps you build your relationship, but helps you deliver the best value.

For our rights owner clients, we try and help forge this communication with face-to-face interaction mid-way through a sponsorship programme.  For example, we sign sponsors to the What Car? Awards in May leaving a large gap of time between signing contracts and the awards ceremony (January).  In order to keep the communication maintained we have introduced a Sponsors Lunch in September to update sponsors and more importantly to build relationships – between both the rights owner and sponsor, but also between sponsors.

3.  CARE – True relationships are not built on the used-car salesman technique of faking it.  If you are like most people, you will be working in the same industry for the majority of your career – as will your peers.  People like to work with people they like and people tend to like people who are helpful, considerate, and knowledgeable.  If you don’t care about your job, you certainly won’t care about someone else’s – which is never a good starting point to fostering a relationship.

As a sponsorship agency, most of what we do is build relationships – however, the importance for building lasting relationships applies for every industry and every job you are in.