Many years ago when I was just getting started in my sales career, I had a client (Jim) say the following to me: “Our business relationship will be very much like a dating relationship”. I’m sure I had a puzzled look on my face so he continued, “In this relationship, you will play the role of the man, and I will play the role of the woman.”
At this point, I was more than a bit puzzled – I was starting to sweat uncomfortably and had an overwhelming desire to break and run. What did he mean by “play the role of the man”? Instead of breaking and running, I asked him to continue. He could see the look of concern (more like sheer terror) on my face and laughed and said, “It’s quite simple really – I want what I want, when I want it, and just remember – I’m always right!”
Overcome with relief that he wasn’t part of some weird sex cult and coming on to me, I muttered something like, “Sure, I can play by those rules”. He turned out to be a very demanding yet very loyal client. Over the course of a couple of years I sold him over $45 Million in products and services.
One of the key takeaways I learned from that experience is that it is imperative to have a “Love Affair With Your Customer”. No, not in the kinky degrading sort of way, but in a way that is authentic and truly has your customer’s best interest at heart.
You see, what Jim was really telling me all those years ago is that he wanted to do business with someone that:
1) He Trusted. Without trust, your customers will never “love” you. Trust is the bedrock of any healthy relationship – business or otherwise.
2) Listened to Him. At the end of the day, your customer is a person and wants to be treated like a person. This includes listening to their issues. As Stephen Covey would say, “Seek first to understand, and then to be understood.” So often, we want to tell our prospective customer all of the wonderful things our product or service will do for them without truly understanding their needs.
3) Met His Needs. Only after you have built trust and listened to their needs will you be ready to proceed to step 3 which is meeting those needs.
Here’s the beautiful part of this equation and where it truly gets exciting. If you perform the following 3 steps better than anyone in your particular market place, your customers will indeed develop a lasting love relationship with you that will stand the test of time.
As a matter of fact, the bond will be so strong that it will defy all logic and reason. Your competitor can lower their price by 20% and your customer will not “cheat” on you by switching to your competitor. That’s the power of love. Are these steps easy? Not always. Are they worth it? Every time! Now quit reading and go find a customer to have a love affair with!