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The ROI is Always in the Relationship!


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Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day!

We live in a world of instant gratification and immediate returns, however, relationships take patience.

Great relationship marketers recognize that a foundation has to be built with a prospective client or referral partner before they see any significant ROI.

I was prompted to write this blog because I had a colleague I network with admit that he wasn’t in a position to give anymore until he started receiving.

I bit my tongue and listened to his position. Theoretically he’s a brilliant business person however I know that this attitude will be his Achilles heel. Yes, he’ll continue to be successful but he will also repel a lot of partners and business along the way with this self-serving attitude. His return will come, it will just be slower and involve a lot more work!

On the other hand, I have a great partnership with an incredible woman who gives like nobody’s business! She never asks what I can do for her, how I will repay her, how quickly reciprocating referrals will come in. She operates with a truly giving attitude and genuine desire to partner people together and help them without expectation.

SHE will absolutely grow her business faster and more profitably than the other guy. Her selflessness and willingness to serve first will be the very foundation of her success!

Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is trust in most cases. Invest in your business relationships with a giving attitude and you will see a prosperous ROI!

 

 


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Breaking up is never easy…

 

When it comes to any relationship whether business or personal, sometimes expectations or personalities just clash.

Sometimes it’s necessary to sever the relationship for the well-being of both parties.  Breaking up with a client can be awkward but sometimes necessary.  Think of the characteristics of a member, donor or client we’ll describe as a PITA (Pain in the !@#).

Let’s see if some of these traits ring true as you think of this individual.

They may be…

– Late for meetings – Exceedingly demanding of your time and energy – Expect excellent service and value but price-shop – Threaten to take their business, talents or donations elsewhere – Leave everything to the last minute – Are rude to you and your team members – Have unclear and unrealistic expectations – Perhaps they’re even abusive with their style of communication – Permit themselves 60, 90 or 120 day payment terms

I’ve only had a few circumstances over the past twelve years where I’ve had to “break up” with a client.  I think back ten years ago to a large client, their purchases attributed to the bulk of my annual sales at the time.  At a glance they appeared to be a great client by their sales volume, however there was a lack of respect and loyalty.  I had to re-evaluate the situation and let them go.  It was terrifying at the time but what I realized shortly after was that I had so much more energy and enthusiasm to share with the rest of my client-base. In fact, my sales actually GREW when they were no longer in the picture!

I had a similar situation while I was in a leadership role for a not-for-profit organization. Our group had a member who would consistently show up late to meetings, disregard the opinions of others around the table and was extremely demanding of the organization. After the team decided to “break up” with this member we had a surge of energy in the room, new ideas, new members join and quickly replaced his role with an outstanding contributor.

Breaking up IS sometimes hard to do but I encourage you to re-evaluate the worth of your business partnerships.  Think outside of the monetary realm, the commission, the volume of donations or influence of a board member.  Is the relationship serving your organization in a positive and mutually beneficial way?

Remember the value of your time, talents and energy that you bring to the table and don’t let your worth be sucked dry by a PITA. And for heaven’s sake don’t go out of your way to keep a PITA happy or they will refer you to their friends – other PITA’S!


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A simple please will do…

Common courtesy seems so uncommon these days. It’s also a critical part of building strong relationships with your clients, donors and the members you deal with.
I was prompted to write this blog after going through drive thru this morning to be greeted at the speaker with an abrupt “hold on”. Wait a minute, I haven’t even ordered and you’ve made this a negative experience! Not a great way to make your customers feel welcome and wanting to come back for more!
What happened to manners anyway? I remember working at Baskin Robbins as an ice cream scooper throughout high school. We were told to greet customers with a smile and “how may I help you?”.  If a customer said thank you after we handed them their cone our response was to be “thank YOU” and another smile.
Why is it then that we’re greeted with grunts and groans and we leave our purchases the only ones saying “thanks”? It’s a little twisted isn’t it?
Do you remember the last time you had a wonderful purchase experience? Chances are that the person serving you was warm and friendly and sincere with their appreciation.
Remember that clients, donors and members leave to work with other companies if they feel we’re indifferent to their patronage. So even if its a bad day or morning “hold on”, smile and show sincere thanks to the people you serve.  Mere manners will set you apart and keep them coming back for more!


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Magnetic Gratitude

Magnetic Gratitude

Magnetic people share something in common, an attitude of gratitude and a love of life and the people in theirs!

I started a gratitude journal this year and this reflection has made my personal and business relationships so much stronger. When we become grateful for the little things in life we realize that they actually reign in a positive and powerful way.  Our attitudes towards our spouse, friends, employees, co-workers, clients and vendors dramatically changes.

My first journal entries contained a few elements for which I’m grateful.  My list gets longer and longer each day!  Things that bring a smile to my face; like the ability to purchase nutritious food, wake up in a warm bed while others are sleeping on the streets, down a glass of clean drinking water and work with an amazing team at a fulfilling job!

This leads me to my great discovery! When you truly reflect on what you’re most grateful for in life it’s not the cars, the house, the material possessions but the people, the relationships, intangible joys that bring meaning and purpose to continue cultivating great relationships both with the people around us and with ourselves.

Having a grateful heart and finding the pleasures in small things makes us focus on the positive, the abundance rather than the scarcity. My challenge would be this;

If you’re a membership coordinator at an association, will you reflect on how many engaged members are positively impacting your organization or the members who didn’t renew? Will you show appreciation to your existing members for their loyalty and what focus is more fulfilling?

If you’re a fundraiser, will you focus on the donor who has stayed committed to your cause for the past ten years or dwell on the fact that his or her level of sponsorship went from gold to silver? Will you show your sincere thanks by letting them know just how much you value their contribution?

If you’re an entrepreneur, will you look at a 5% growth this quarter and wish you had met your 10% goal or thank the clients who made it possible to realize growth while so many others in your industry are struggling to remain at status quo?

Gratitude is a wonderful way to keep our personal and professional relationships in perspective.  Show your gratitude today with a small inexpensive gift or random act of kindness towards someone who has made you thankful!

 

 


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Something went wrong! Hooray!

Oh no! The order went wrong, the client is not happy! Take a moment, a brief moment, to cringe and move on!

Errors present a wonderful opportunity to show your character and create a pivotal point in any relationship.  Sales are no exception.

The minute something goes wrong, take charge and contact your client.  Forget email and reach out in a personal way with a phone call.  I’ve said it before, email just doesn’t do authenticity any justice. First apologize for the error and recognize the implications this has on the individual.  Perhaps this potentially tarnishes their reputation with their boss or their clients, but not for long!

Error rectification means tackling the issue head on.  Admit the error, taking ownership even if it’s not your fault.  It means accepting the challenge with an upbeat attitude and providing solutions! Make sure your client feels that you’re in control and you’re handling the issue.  You’re creating a “good news” story for them and need some time to work on a brilliant and prompt outcome.

Sometimes error rectification means losing money in the short-term but gaining a client for life in the long run. One of our clients recently received some defective goods.  The supplier was at fault but I stepped up to the plate, took ownership and took a hit of about $3000 for the error.  I didn’t doubt my client’s concerns, but rather fully justified their feelings and went to work on a more than acceptable solution.  By doing so, I lost three thousand dollars on the initial order but shortly thereafter secured an ecstatic client by replacing the goods with a higher value product and closing a $47,000.00 deal that same week!

Your clients need to know you have their best interests in mind.  Your insurance on errors puts the buyer at ease and allows for a fruitful and prosperous long-term partnership.

As Jeffrey Gitomer would say, go for the “wow”.  Most people don’t and most people lose clients when things go wrong, but what a shame to waste a wonderful relationship changing opportunity. Hooray!


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It’s NOT About You!

When it comes to building great business relationships, professionals must realize that it’s not about them.  People are only interested in themselves. They like to talk about themselves and its human nature that clients want to know “What’s in it for me?”

The fastest way to build rapport with a client or prospect is to ask them questions about themselves.  This could initially be personal questions to find some common ground while being respectful of people’s privacy and then leading to business related questions.

 

What do your client’s treasure most? • Their children • Their job • Their community work • Their new car • Their upcoming vacation

Find out what your client or prospect is most excited about and ask genuine questions.  Questions will show your client that it’s not all about the money and that you’re a great listener and care about them as a person.

Have you ever had lunch with someone, you asked all the questions and they happily told you their life story. At the end of the meal they told you were a great conversationalist and really interesting?  Well they found you interesting because you first became interested in them.  You gave them an opportunity to be in the spotlight to share their excitement, maybe unload their challenges and you listened with respect and sincerity.

In the end, it’s not about you, it’s not about me, and it’s about our clients, donors and members.   Listening and coming from a place of genuine interest is one of the fundamental roots to building great business relationships!


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Prosperous Vendor Relationships

We all know that the relationships with have with our clients, donors and members are important to the success of our business.  What we may not have considered is the relationship we have with our vendors and how that affects our success.

In the promotional products industry our vendors can be treated very poorly by distributors.  I’ve seen this treatment first hand when I worked for another organization.  When I started my own business I made a commitment that I would never treat my vendors poorly.  In fact, I would treat vendors like clients! Imagine the difference in the approach to a relationship with this attitude.  It means asking my suppliers to lunch and actually treating them rather than expecting them to foot the bill.  Treating my vendors like clients means that the lunch is about getting to know them on a personal level. This is also a great opportunity to network to perhaps connect them to someone else who may impact their business or personal life.  Did they mention they were going on a trip? Perhaps there’s a super travel agent I can refer them to.  The relationship is two-sided and genuine.

A great relationship with a supplier means being honest about how urgent your deadlines are.  If something is a rush, I state rush and they know I’m truthful about it.  Rather than placing every order as an urgent request my vendors know that I’m flexible. They can call on us if they need some cooperation to shuffle my order to accommodate someone else that needs a product produced urgently.  Having open communication and a respectful relationships means they know I’m approachable and flexible and it means that if I’m ever in a rushed position they will pull through for me.

When something does go wrong, great vendor partnerships approach dealing with the situation with respect and patience.  It means collecting the facts, picking up the phone and working on a solution that’s a win-win.  It doesn’t mean trying to screw your supplier over for making you look bad, or a heated email that could sever the relationships completely. It means working together to “wow” your client in the end building loyalty to your supplier as well as keeping a client for life.

In the end, having a mutually beneficial relationship with your vendor or supplier will increase your productivity.  The more you can rely on a few sources rather than hundreds of sources to do a great job, the more quickly you get things done and can move on to other tasks at hand. When vendor relationships are based on trust, honesty and respect it’s amazing how smoothly a transaction can run.

Write a personal note to one of your vendors today! It’s a new year, let them know you’re excited about growing your business with them and thank them for their support in the past. I guarantee a positive return!