Are You Hunting Ducks or Building Relationships?


This morning I recommended a trusted resource (I’ve always disliked the term vendor) for the fourth time in six months, because I value their work and they consistently go the extra mile to make me look good.

Each of these other clients are very successful and extremely well-connected. It’s entirely possible that all of them will eventually make similar recommendations.

To put this another way, by giving me first-class service, this resource could turn one client into 16 clients. That’s 16 clients with an acquisition cost of zero… talk about a profitable growth strategy.

Surprisingly, this is not how most companies do business. Instead, they hire sales professionals with a “hunter” mindset who focus 95% of their effort on closing the sale. To the degree that anyone pays attention to the client after the sale, that work is often delegated to low-paid, young “customer satisfaction” employees.

My simple graphic above demonstrates the tremendous difference between these two approaches. In the top half, the hunter “bags” one duck – I mean client – at a time, and then must repeat the process again and again and again… entirely on their own. Some of those clients probably flee in short order, because they feel neglected or mistreated. In the bottom part of this image, one client (i.e. blue box) turns into 16 clients as subsequent clients make subsequent recommendations. The company that nurtures its clients can turn each client into many new clients.

Let me say this another way: the professional who nurtures his or her relationships will enjoy one success after another.

It is hard to overstate the exponential value of a relationship so strong that the other person volunteers to help you increase your income. Too often, both professionals and companies make the mistake of viewing a relationship as a mere transaction rather than a bond that can and should stretch years into the future.

No matter whether your role is sales, marketing, customer service, science, technology or serving lunch in the cafeteria, don’t accept a culture that treats other people as means to a quick buck. You – yes, you – will never reach your full potential in such an environment.

Making a recommendation is the ultimate business compliment, because it causes the other person to put his or her relationships on the line. If you’re not receiving – and giving – such compliments on a regular basis, you’d be wise to reexamine the ways that you “do business”.

We’re all fundamentally in the relationship business. Never forget that.

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