In our initial post we outlined the 5 key questions to develop a relationship strategy and in the last four posts we explained #1: Who Matters?, #2: Key Stakeholders and how they think, #3: What is your Current Relationship? and #4: What is the Relationship Gap?
And now that you know there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be, let’s talk about how to address it.
How Do You Bridge the Relationship Gap?
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, just like Google Maps, when you put in your desired destination, it can just map out how you get to your journey’s end? But even if you don‘t have a Google Maps for sales to help guide your journey, there are a few key principles that provide signposts to ease your path to bridging a relationship gap. In essence, the key to elevating and expanding your relationships comes down to one key principle: you must create, measure and communicate value to the customer. Once again, context matters.
If you have an existing relationship with a customer, you will already have had the opportunity to make a promise on which you are able to deliver. Unfortunately, sellers frequently do a poor job of communicating value. If, for example, you deployed an HR Management product to your customer that reduced the time to process job applicants by half, be sure not to keep it a secret. Make sure that you have captured the baseline data so that, when relevant, you can remind the customer of how hard it used to be to process job applicants – how hard it was for their business before they adopted your product. Their success is your success – just as when they have a problem with your solution, it is your problem.
Don‘t forget to document customer successes. Your marketing team will love you if they can share them in the marketplace, but even if the customer does not want to share their success outside the four walls of the corporate HQ, make sure that everyone inside these walls knows that you delivered on your promise. Buyers reward sellers who understand their business. You can’t create or communicate value unless you can feel their pain. Once you understand the customer’s business you have the opportunity to leverage your own expertise and that of your company to understand your customer’s business problem.
A better approach is to consider what you would do if you were in their position. That forces you to ‘get in their shoes’ and walk with them. It forces you to consider the impact on their business if they make the right or wrong buying decisions and it illuminates dark spots in the buyer’s mind where they have not yet seen what is possible. Your job is to shine a light, provide valuable insights into the business and into the market and guide them to see what is possible. Then they can connect their business priorities to potential solutions. That’s one sure way to elevate your relationship.
As always, these behavioral factors apply:
- Always give more than you get to demonstrate that you want to add value.
- Don’t wait until you need something from your customer or prospect before you deliver value.
- Always do what you say.
- Be respectful.
- Show up on time.
- Consider their interests first.
- And if they are selecting the wrong product from you, even if it means a bigger deal for you, advise them against it.
If you want to become a Trusted Advisor, or if you want them to support you in a deal, you have to earn their trust. Trust starts with the first promise you make and ends with the first promise you break.