Early on in my career in sales I closed "THE" deal. I landed a substantial corporate account. It was a significant boost to my income and the company was growing rapidly. Things were going so well I was writing the specifications. If you have been in that world you know it does not get much better than that!
They had multiple local locations that I personally serviced and received commission. Perfect! They brought in a new manager at one location that had a long standing relationship with one of my competitors. We just did not gel, but I really didn't care because I had this corporate account locked up. We got into an argument one day and I was unprofessional in my response, but I didn't care because I had this account locked up. You know where this is going. I received a phone call from my locked up contact at corporate. I lost the account! Really, just because one person did not like me?
Wrong. I lost the account because I was arrogant and narcissistic in thinking that I was more important than I really was. The problem wasn't this one person it was me. I had taken this relationship for granted. A great lesson to learn. Sometimes you need to get hit by a 2x4 and in the wallet to learn. I did apologize to that person. Not because I thought I would get the business back, it was the right thing to do. FYI- I never got that business back.
Here Are 5 Ways To Ruin A Business Relationship. Forever.
Thinking you are smarter than everyone else. I recently had a friend that wanted to learn more about Google Analytics on their website. I love it when someone wants to get engaged with data so I was happy to help. The first step was to get access to their account. You would never have imagined how they were treated by their web designer that had installed Google Analytics. To paraphrase, you aren't smart enough to understand it and so you shouldn't waste your time. Wow! Guess what happened? They fired their web designer. A simple request met with a demeaning answer ruined that business relationship.
Blaming others and not taking ownership of mistakes. What if you performed an internet search on SEO. You find some really useful information about Google Search Console, Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools. You now know that it is important that your website sitemap be submitted to Bing and Google. You contact your SEO company to find out if this is part of their strategy. " We are experts and have been doing this for a long time." "Trust us, we know what we are doing". The fact is that your sitemap had not been submitted and you question this. Mr. Customer, if you had wanted that you should have told us that specifically. We are not mind readers. If it is not covered in the scope of work you have no right to get upset with us for not doing it. Yes, that was an actual response. The customer was blamed and it was the customers fault. No mystery here... they were fired. Imagine how simple it would have been to say: Mr. Customer we are very sorry, but somehow we missed that. It is our fault and we will fix it. Moving forward we need to do a better job communicating with you. Let's go ahead a schedule a set time to listen to you so we can do a better job.
Thinking you are the only option. Myopia is the medical term for being nearsighted. You are nearsighted if you have difficulty reading road signs and seeing distant objects clearly, but are able to see close-up tasks. You can't see the big picture. A business relationship is like any other relationship. You are not the only choice. Maybe they even settled. You were the closest fit, but not a perfect fit. There will be bumps in the road. Disagreements will occur. As in any relationship you will get distracted by urgent things and forget about important things. Solve problems, don't create them. This may require you to bring in outside resources. Build a strong enough relationship that you don't feel threatened by using outside experts.
Talking More Than Listening
The sales cycle has changed. People don't want to be sold. They want to buy. There is a big difference! Most consumers research BEFORE they visit a store or ask for a quote. You need to understand who your ideal client is and what questions will provide you with that information. Simply talking about your product or service is boring and does not build a relationship. What specific problems do they have and what solutions can you provide to solve them? If you can't provide a solution find someone who can. This will strengthen the relationship long term. When problems arise, listen and ask questions. Find out why it is important to them.
A graceful exit can leave the door open to have a relationship with your business in the future. Some decisions to go with another company have absolutely nothing to do with you. You have heard of that thing called "corporate." Even if the decision was about you and your performance, the grass is not always greener on the other side. Make it easy to exit and even easier to come back. The new vendor may not be able to fulfill all the promises they made so keep the relationship friendly and the door open.
Have you been in a business relationship where this has happened?
Share your experience in the comments section.