5 Tips for Relationship Building

Thomas Marsh is the Relationship Management Director for EMEA in Edu Sales at Flywire.

Upon entering the financial technology sector when joining Flywire over five years ago, I came across a very helpful article by John Doyle on Finextra on what makes a great Relationship Manager. John’s opening points on understanding the customer’s business coupled with their future strategy, is crucial for any Relationship Manager to be effective. Whilst his article contains a thorough list on the behaviours for relationship management, I wanted to expand on some of these points by providing five tips for relationship building based on my experience at Flywire working closely with customers to drive success:

  1. Understanding the business
    It is important that in addition to understanding the what and the why of a client’s world, we should really also understand the how. A detailed knowledge of the operational processes, both in our immediate sphere of influence but also far wider, is one of the most important areas in order to provide truly consultative support. Knowing exactly where we fit in clients’ work flows and how we connect to other systems unlocks the door to understanding the best ways we can help. This often takes lots of two-way communication; taking time to not only ask detailed questions and conduct mapping exercises, but also to accurately document the process. Nothing frustrates someone more than having to repeat what they have already told you or having to explain the same information to another colleague. This is why at Flywire, we take time to collaboratively engage with our clients to better understand their business.
  2. Engaging effectively with strategy
    Knowing a client’s strategy is one thing, but fully embracing it is something very different. Setting up an annual reminder on Salesforce to ‘have strategic discussion with X’ often misses the mark. Engagement should be built into every client interaction, with every stakeholder. ‘How can I support the client on their journey to meeting strategic goals?’ should be the driver behind every single activity and interaction.
  3. Interpreting and turning data into insight
    Data is everywhere, particularly when you work with payments and technology infrastructure. In an age where everything is tracked, monitored, and measured, there is a wealth of information to understand whether you are helping to achieve a client’s objectives. Leveraging data to proactively solve a problem before it emerges or spotting a need before the client knows they have it adds great value.
  4. Using emotional intelligence to drive success
    Business does not operate in vacuums. Success in relationship management requires an empathic ability to gauge a person’s mood so you can decide when to propose new bold initiatives and when to hold back for another time. After assessment, you can better judge the style and content most fitting for the situation.
  5. Having a genuine interest in people
    Finally, and most importantly, relationship management is all about having a genuine interest in people. It’s about communicating and building bonds, inspiring and influencing every step of the way and helping to resolve conflict, develop and grow to drive overall success. At Flywire, we believe in building strong relationships. We take time to understand our client’s unique challenges, and offer products to help them achieve their goals.

There is not really any rocket science in this article, just common sense and some best practices that I’ve seen from colleagues and five tips that I personally try to apply when working and building relationships with clients. In closing, communication goes a long way - ask questions, follow up and stay in touch.