How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
Einstein’s Kids Never Asked Him for Help With Their Math Homework
Guest articles > Einstein’s Kids Never Asked Him for Help With Their Math Homework
by: Doug Martin
Part of what I sell is profound observation and commentary. It often takes weeks to craft and squeeze out the essence of a single learning point for it to become profound. And by profound, I mean simple. Rendered into succinctness, it then becomes presented to the masses through a series of forums like blogs or a seminar room, with the hopes that the meaning becomes translated into someone else’s positive action or ability. At the risk of sounding overly egotistical, most times, it’s met with significant affirmation. But not with my kids, who have endured a lifetime of my droning lectures or my wife who knows I have some inexplicable aversion to picking up my socks or returning my clothes to the closet.
They simply know me too well to grant me the professional value that others, who are exposed only to a singular dimension of me, do. Over familiarity breeds diminished professional value. I imagine Charles Dickens hunched over his quill and looking up to his wife peeling potatoes and saying “honey, what do you think of this as an opener … It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”. We all know her response was along the lines of “ Hmm what? Oh Chuck, I don’t have time for this right now, whatever you think, is probably good”. Or Santana’s wife saying “Really Carlos? Are you going to play that thing all night, or are we going to catch a movie… like you promised” murmuring a barely audible “I’ll show you a black magic women…” as she leaves the room.
As sales folks, we are in the business of deepening our relationship with customers. It’s a people to people thing. And as an author and advocate of building those relationships strategically, part of our plan is to forge a strong interdependency between our customers and us. In some cases, we strive to build friendships believing that to be the very pinnacle of success. And herein lay the rub, the near invisible difference between a friendship and a business relationship. Customers are not your friends. They are your customers. But there are often indistinguishable similarities.
Like friendship, solid business relationships are founded in honest exchange and mutual value. But unlike friendships, there exists an extremely delicate balance of exposing enough of the personal you, with that special aura of brilliant mystique you have, and that aspect of the “you” who clearly has no regard for socks.
Crossing over the threshold of solid business relationship to a nifty friendship-based business alliance has, at first blush, lots of upside. Access and unprecedented attention pop immediately to mind. But they also contain another unique opportunity, the opportunity to mess it up.
People weigh the whole package. The more they know about you, the fatter the package becomes. Opinions and perceptions evolve with knowledge. In order to maintain and grow your client perceived value of you, you must always be impressive.
A case in point. A client of mine and I were singing on the same song sheet so well together, we decided to become partners in a joint venture. The business went well and we prospered for five years until we amicably entered into a buy/sell scenario. Triggered by a simple difference in opinion regarding the company’s future direction. I sold my shares and the business continues to this day to be prosperous. My ex-partner and I remain great friends and although geographically separated by 2,000 miles, talk frequently. A challenge arose within his business that he felt could be best resolved with my area of expertise, of which he has unparallel respect, and a flight was booked for us to connect and discuss.
Having flushed out the challenge and possible solution somewhere around the 14th fairway, the delicate subject of remuneration arose. Clearly there was a difference between what I felt my value was and what he did, for after I blurted out the cost, he gave me a noogie. Kicks and giggles aside, we decided it best he seek the counsel of someone less familiar.
Maintaining your client value centers on understanding what they value from you in the relationship. Honing each of those aspects and reinforcing them in every client encounter. Ask yourself this; if your client could choose only one word to describe you to someone else, would that word be, “Impressive”?
There are literally hundreds of traps in the business relationship-building world that can subtly undermine perceived value. Gnaw away at the image the client has of you. I’ve seen it thousands of times. An industry gathering that results in one too many cocktails, the inappropriate joke or story, the golf game with the skulled shot that exposes a different side of your personality. You know, the side of you that helicopters the club down the fairway. And yet these forums are ideal for reinforcing customer value, if thought through and executed appropriately.
Let’s face it, client time is gold. The more you get however, the greater your risk and your opportunity become. Certainly there is room to be casual, but there is never room to be cavalier. Seize these opportunities to deliberately solidify the customer perceived value equation.
We all have those slivers of personality that our true friends endure, love or abide. But when it comes to customers, less is more. More value. My corporate mission statement is two words. Be Impressive. That’s it. Those words guide my behavior, my professionalism, my commitment to value, my product, and my commitment to client relationships.
And until now, none of my customers knew I have an apparent DNA deficiency
connected to picking up socks.
About the Author: Douglas Martin is a Professional Corporate Sales Trainer featuring his trademarked seminar program EPIG™ Customer Relationship Architecture and purveyor of The Weekly Sales Beast. http://theweeklysalesbeast.blogspot.com/ where his lighter side of heavy selling musings are syndicated worldwide.
Contributor: Douglas Martin
Published here on: 20-Mar-11