Relationship chemistry: the Magic Sauce of business

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Global Marketing Director and Partner James Hayhurst considers the essential secret ingredient to creating meaningful client relationships.

You know what they say: people buy people.

That’s always been the way and – I don’t think I’m sticking my neck out too much here – that’s almost certainly going to be the way for as long as there is business being done.

I write this as someone still relatively new to the legal sector by most people’s long years in law. My background experience comes from 15 years running leading advertising agencies and then, latterly, a further five years with the global brands of Unilever as a client of those agencies.

So, working in the law was a new and refreshing challenge, or so I thought. However, it was amazing how quickly the skills I’d built up in two decades of advertising and marketing were being utilised again.

And when you think about, that isn’t a surprise at all.

It’s a people business

Law is evolving all the time. New models – alternative law firms as they’re known – are gaining ground and the industry gradually moves on, though perhaps not at the same breakneck speed as others such as technology or retail.

In an increasingly fast-moving sector, we see more and more firms working hard to highlight how they’re different. But one thing remains constant.

Behind every successful client relationship, behind every new client win or every new instruction growing that client income, are people.

We may buy online from algorithm-driven app-based retail platforms, we may check-in online for our holidays, we may increasingly check out our own shopping in the supermarket – but successful business relationships still rely on the personal touch.

That’s why, as I moved into working in the legal sector alongside maintaining clients in the FMCG sector I still know so well, I wanted to do more to help lawyers in establishing themselves as their clients’ trusted adviser.

As both client and client relationship manager, I’d seen first-hand how important it was to establish close links – a real personal connection. It had worked for me from both sides of the relationship.

I agree with the view of Maister, Green and Galford in their excellent work on this in The Trusted Advisor. Their ‘trust equation’ underpins their belief that the ability to win the trust and confidence of clients is key to successful professional relationships.

And of course, the best way to do that is through personal relationships. It’s a people thing, as I believe one well-known high street bank is keen on telling us in its latest adverts.

The Magic Sauce

I was lucky in being able to draw on some legal experience as I developed what would become The Magic Sauce – an interactive programme which helps lawyers at all levels to build great client relationships.

From more than 100 legal interviews, it was obvious that personal relationships were the ‘magic sauce’ for business success and longevity of those relationships. So that’s why we called it The Magic Sauce.

I love working with teams – legal and from other sectors – on the programme, which aims to transform client relationships into happier, more profitable partnerships.

It’s all about improving the understanding and importance of relationship dynamics, communication, and wider team chemistry. Helping clients and agencies to understand each other better to work together better towards their shared goals mean they then work more effectively, efficiently, enjoyably, and profitably together. And that powers new business and organic growth.

If people buy people, then the more we understand what the people we work with need, the more successful we will all be.

It sounds simple and with practice, it will become much easier. And who doesn’t want to get more success from those all-important client relationships – the magic sauce at the heart of business success?

To find out more, visit our Magic Sauce webpage.

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