Great relationships are based on making others feel good which at times requires tact and grace. A mutually beneficial relationship lets both parties feel trust, appreciation and loyalty. Relationships aren’t built overnight and take time to foster and grow.
I feel compelled to share a personal story this week. Over the past four days I’ve been at our national conference. I’ve attended wonderful workshops, seen new products at our tradeshow and have reconnected with some incredible vendors.
One tradeshow vendor, let’s call him “Bob”, pulled me aside and this is how the conversation went:
“Nikki, I didn’t want to leave you a voicemail or email about this because sometimes it just doesn’t come out right” (agreed). He continues to say, “I’ve pitched my product line to your team twice now and you haven’t sent me any business” (Self-interests perhaps?). “Nikki, the reality is that, as I’m sure you can relate as you’re dealing with your customers” (rather assuming) “that if you spent time presenting to a customer and they didn’t buy from you, you would have to invest your time elsewhere. It just makes good business sense”.
Wow! Well once I picked myself up off the floor, I smiled at Bob and thanked him for his time. I assured him that the lack of business on our part wasn’t personal and it was just a case of his line not being time of mind on a day-to-day basis. As I walked away from his booth I felt slighted then sorry for Bob. See what Bob didn’t realize was that our team appreciated his visits. We even included his line along with the other apparel lines we normally share with our clients in a number of proposals. We even did an e-mail blitz shortly after his presentations but as time passed we simply forgot about his company.
As I walked the showroom floor, I thought about how that was a perfect example of how not to build a relationship! We can learn a lot about relationship marketing from Bob. I’m reminded that if a client buys elsewhere the ownership is on me, the sales person. For instance, if I were to walk in to an office of a current client and see that their lobby was filled with two hundred gift baskets and my company didn’t provide them, well I have two choices. I can be tactless, like Bob and get defensive or I can communicate grace and humility. I can recognize that clearly I didn’t communicate to this client that our company offered Christmas baskets. Perhaps they were unaware that this was part of our line in addition to branded office supplies and promotional merchandise. I could remind them just how much I appreciate their patronage and mention that I’d be happy to provide some ideas the next time they’re sourcing out gift baskets. The worst case scenario of course would be to make my client feel guilty for not purchasing from me just like Bob did.