For all the talk of relationship selling being dead, I am still long human relationships. Your best relationships are based on your ability to create value, no doubt. But they are relationships nonetheless, and relationships require proper care and feeding.
Other than an inability to create value, nothing destroys relationships faster than your absence. A lack of presence is a liability when it comes to relationships. It’s neglect.
Absence does not make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the heart go wander.
If you don’t invest in your client relationships, know that someone else will. If you aren’t willing to have a presence, to give the relationship its proper care and feeding, and continually create value, you can bet that your competitor will. Here are three commands for preventing a wandering heart in your client contacts.
- Maintain a Presence: Long periods of absence are felt as neglect. Long periods without communication make your client feel that they are being ignored. The maintenance of relationships requires an investment of time. Relationships require your presence. The best way to maintain a presence is by using your calendar to plan your relationship building. Make a list of the relationships you need to maintain, and schedule the sales calls you need to make at least one quarter in advance. Then make your presence felt.
- Prove That You Care: Your clients need to know that you care about them. They need to know that you are thinking about them and their business. Proving that you care requires an investment of time, but the unexpected follow up call to ensure that things are going well (or the unexpected thank you card) indicates that you care. It proves you are thinking about your client. Make the calls. Send the thank you cards. Do something. Prove that you care.
- Move From Value Creation to Value Creation: Relationships are based on value creation. It’s not enough just to have a friendly relationship with your clients. You have to bring business results. You have to bring them new ideas. Preventing your clients from having a wandering heart means moving from value creation to value creation, never becoming complacent, never resting on your laurels. Sales is the fashion business. Make a list of ideas that you and your clients can implement together over the next four quarters. Share these initiatives with your clients during your meetings. They give you a reason to have a presence, and it’s a reason based on value creation.
Work to make the heart grow fonder, not to make the heart go wander.
What do relationships require in the way of care and feeding? How do you give them the proper care and feeding?
What do your customers feel when you sell them something then disappear, only returning when you have something else to sell?
How do you prevent your clients from feeling neglected?