Building quality relationships

Author Maximillian Duran, University of San Francisco

Posted: June 25, 2016

Successful relationships are bonds that are often developed and improved over long periods of time. From understanding your buyer early on to eventually closing a deal, the relationship you have built requires serious upkeep throughout the process, especially after you have won their business (Holmes, 2008). It is vital that you align yourself with the goals of your partner, continue to deliver value and stay in close contact to ensure satisfaction (Holmes, 2008). The most ideal relationships are those exhibiting longevity and in which both parties benefit in more ways than one (Buhler, Heffernan & Hewson, 2007). By maintaining contact, ensuring satisfaction, and providing value outside of your immediate interactions, you will be able to develop a long-term plan for a successful relationship (Holmes, 2008).

It is critical to take the time to understand the needs of a buyer and their expectations when entering into a relationship or partnership. Research supports that a relationship progresses through the sales cycle and eventually leads to a close when the two parties agree they would both benefit from working together (Holmes 2008). This point is exemplified by the idea that millennials are much more socially engaged than other demographics (Fisher, 2015). Therefore organizations can benefit from placing a more social emphasis in events and appeal to them via digital media (Fisher, 2015). This understanding will ideally lead to successful, long-term relationships being built with these fans (Sutton, 2015). The more committed an organization is to uncovering the reason a consumer makes their purchases, the more successful they will be in forming lasting bonds (Buhler et al., 2007). Event organizers and ticket salespeople have realized that when dealing with millennials, the most effective strategies are to draw them to get them socially engaged and to offer them options, which has proven successful (Fisher, 2015).

Once you have an understanding about the desires of your audience, you are better able to deliver on these variables. First and foremost, it is vital to maintain close contact with your partners (Holmes, 2008). At every opportunity, you should consider the best ways to reach out to your partners and engage with them both personally and professionally (Holmes, 2008). Being able to provide value to the relationship beyond what is expected will help you to accomplish satisfaction in the end (Buhler et al., 2007). One way you can ensure this is by adopting the elevator approach, which states that everyone will have different levels of buying engagement (Sutton 2015). By having touch points early and often you are able to educate your clients on the options available for purchase, allowing them to find the option that is best for them. This model is ideal because it allows the consumer to feel that their needs are being met and also helps ensure that the buyer stays within the organization (Sutton 2015). When fans are able to purchase at a rate that suits them and organizations are presenting them with the options and education to make the best informed decision, we begin to move closer towards long-term satisfaction (Sutton, 2015).

Lastly, attention should be drawn to not only your immediate interactions, but also ways that you can work with them that might exceed their expectations. As has been stated, one key metric the success of a relationship is judged off of is satisfaction (Buhler et al., 2007). At its simplest level this would mean that all goals have been accomplished for both parties. While this is a good target to shoot for, it should be the goal to exceed the expectations of your partner by providing them with additional value through your network (Holmes, 2008). By offering additional assistance to help your partners succeed, you are creating a deeper relationship (Holmes, 2008). In order to do this, it is vital to have open dialogue within your relationship in order to gain insights into areas where you can be of assistance. In sports and in business, the more a customer is feeling satisfied within a relationship, the longer you will hold their business (Sutton, 2015). It is better to have them dealing with your organization and for you to provide them with more value than for them to seek it externally (Sutton, 2015).

Being able to remain committed to your partners and showing them your willingness to cooperate in any way possible will allow you to have a successful relationship (Buhler et al., 2007). These principles can be implemented through communication that exists throughout the stages of your relationship. By following up with calls and e-mails and by becoming integrated into the personal lives of your clients, you will gain their business on a deeper level (Holmes, 2008). Relationships need to be nurtured and all members need to feel that their needs are being met in order to grow the bond (Holmes, 2008). When all is said and done, we must also remember that the relationships we build on a personal level can often be just as powerful as those we build professionally (Ourand, 2015).



Buhler, A. W., Heffernan, T. W., Hewson, P. J. (2007). The soccer club-sponsor relationship: identifying the critical variables for success. International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, 8(4), 291-309.

Fisher, E. (2015, June 8). Millennials put ticket strategies to test. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(9). Retrieved from

Holmes, C. (2008). The Ultimate Sales Machine. New York: Portfolio.

Ourand, J. (2015, May 25). ‘Industry of Relationships’. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(7). Retrieved from

Sutton, B. (2015, April 13). On my elevator: A new way to think about fan consumption. SportsBusiness Journal, 18(1). Retrieved from


About Maximillian Duran, University of San Francisco

Maximillian is currently a graduate student at the University of San Francisco Sport Management program. Having a longstanding relationship with sports, both as a player and a professional, he is looking to take his competitive advantage to the next level in the fields of sales, partnership and sponsorship. This is an edited version of a paper Max prepared for Dr. Michael M. Goldman’s Business Development & Sales class at the University of San Francisco.

IImage by Juan Pelegrín, "curry-Thompson", Accessed via Creative Commons license.