If you’ve been in business for longer than 5 minutes, it inevitably has happened to you: a customer buys the same product or service you offer from someone else; a superior promotes someone else with the similar educational background or experience as you do; a member chooses to join another association with similar value proposition as yours!
“What? Seriously,” you think! I do that. I have that. I offer that. We could do that. “Why didn’t they call us?” you wonder. “We sent them a proposal six months ago suggesting some of the same ideas,” mentioned someone recently. “And yet, they went with another project team. Unbelievable!”
Is it really? You see, I’m a big believer that it’s NOT your relationship’s job to hire you, buy from you, call you to tell you that they’re in the market for your products or services! It’s not your relationship’s job to promote you within the organization, suggest that you attend an executive education program to raise the bar on your performance, execution or results. If you’re a consultant, but also happen to train or speak, it’s not your consulting client’s job to hire to speak at an upcoming event. If you lead an association’s membership efforts, it’s not your member’s job to internalize whatever value you think you offer them!
WE must consistently, with unique value-add, engage and influence our relationships. We must inform them, educate them, invite them to “try” our products or services; in essence it’s our job to influence their thinking and call to action! How are you creating compelling thought or practice leadership? How are you reaching out to both current and prospective relationships with value-add? Are you hiding behind emails or calling and visiting relationships most important to you with fresh ideas and unique perspectives?
It’s our job to help them buy – even if it isn’t from us! Not just products or services, but information, credibility, and repute! It’s our job to infuse new ideas, not rehashed ones, but truly innovative thinking about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. It’s our job to see them as unique individuals, teams and organizations they are and adapt our approach to one that most directly improves their condition! It’s our job to build a strong, diverse portfolio of relationships so even if we can’t help them, we can refer them to someone else who can!
If your relationships don’t see you as “the one call” they need to make to explore challenges and opportunities, whether it relates to a product or service you offer or can refer them to someone, you can’t blame them for not engaging you!
After all, regardless of what any of us do, we’re all fundamentally in the relationship business!