Sharing values builds strong relationships

Fuel Marketing - blog imageAt a recent networking event, we were asked to discuss how we thought we could get the most from prospect meetings. Whilst the usual points about research, listening, understanding and follow up were raised, I decided to input my own thoughts by saying that having shared values was the most important thing to me when meeting a prospect. Some people in the group looked a little confused, so let me explain what is key about shared values in business relationships.

To ensure that you get what I mean, I’m not talking about shared interests. So whilst I agree that it’s lovely to work with someone who enjoys the same hobbies and activities as you, if your fundamental beliefs and value systems are similar, your relationship has a greater propensity for success.

What are core values?

Our core values affect all the decisions and choices that we make in life, including religion, political believes, career choices, lifestyle, attitudes etc. Essentially we all make decisions based on what feels ‘right’ to us. It’s an inner feeling, sometimes termed a gut feeling, so when you go along with something that doesn’t fit with your core values, you will feel uncomfortable and unhappy. 

Our core values can change over time, as we grow and learn more about what’s important to us as individuals,  but it’s unlikely that anyone will be happy in a relationship (business or otherwise) with someone whose core values conflict with their own. Occasionally you may decide that for a certain person it’s worth changing, but unless you can find a way to make it suit your own values then it’s unlikely that you will feel authentic within the relationship – you will feel compromised.

What are your values?

Many people aren’t very clear about what their values are. They don’t know that they feel strongly about something until it’s threatened. It’s important to spend some time getting to know yourself and what’s important to you if you are going to find a client with similar values and beliefs to your own. But don’t forget that over time and according to what life stage you are at, your values will change. And whilst having a lot in common is fine, you might find yourself unhappy about a prospect’s negative view on something that you are passionate about. When this happens, do not fight it, withdraw gracefully and find someone else whose beliefs/values more closely match your own.

Value matching example

To bring this home I want to share a prospect meeting story with you. This happened to me many years ago. I was arranging a meeting with a prospective client in a local town to me. They were not from the area but having talked to them on the phone, I had found out as much as I could about them, including some information about their business/personal values. To this end, I confirmed that we would meet at an accessible local hotel, where I knew that all hot drinks were free (and you could help yourself to as many as you wanted), there were also comfy sofas, private areas of the lounge to talk, friendly and non-intrusive staff and plenty of free parking. The meeting duly went ahead and a proposal from me to them followed by email. A week later I was offered the work. On asking why they had chosen me as opposed to the other marketing companies they met on the same day, they confessed that they liked the fact that I took them to a venue which had everything they liked and offered free refreshments, as this matched their careful and considered attitude to spending money.  And it will probably come as no surprise to learn, that they are still my client.

Essentially successful working relationships are the ones with people who connect at a deeper level. And despite changes along the way, they are still in tune with each other as they are joined by their shared values/beliefs. If you need help to establish and communicate effectively your values and beliefs and those of your brand, then get in touch.