The philosophy behind strategically managing our clients underscores the importance of understanding the impact of those relationships. Most of us 'get' that intellectually. Yet, during the course of day-to-day selling, the emotional need to make quota often overrides rationale.
The result is that we end up with varying client relationships each of which can be categorized in one of four ways. As you read through these, think about where your prospects and clients fall.
Level 1: Great for your client. Great for you.
This is the obvious goal. These relationships result in clients for life because you each benefit greatly from doing business together. You deliver ideas, share opportunities and create positive impact for them. They challenge you to expand and grow with them. They refer you to others. These relationships require that you be savvy, equipped with the means to have executive level conversations and willing to accept the challenge to grow personally. They require that the client be self-aware and mature enough to realize they need this type of relationship.
Level 2: Not good for your client. Good for you.
If it's not good for the client, is it ever good? These are short-term relationships where the client gives all the value to us. We gain but deliver little to no value to them. Ultimately these will harm your reputation and negatively affect other relationships and your true revenue potential. An example of this is the vastly differing prices of an airline ticket, one passenger pays $300 and the person seated next to them pays $700. While supply and demand still affect pricing, tread lightly. Taking advantage of a customer will always taste, look and feel to them like they've been treated unjustly. They complain to others, you lose in the long run.
Level 3: Good for your client. Not good for you.
Unfortunately this is where most sales organizations and sellers with money weakness hang out. They tend to take deals where they can't command the pricing they need to flawlessly execute. As a result they've given the customer the upper hand and now deal with an internal team that feels undervalued. I've seen sellers jump at the client's beck and call, misusing resources and losing valuable time for prospecting to make countless revisions, etc. This is not a relationship of peers rather it's one of subservience. The client gloats. You live with high frustration and low profitability.
Level 4: Not good for your client. Not good for you.
This is the level to avoid. The majority of these relationships don't start out this way; they end up here over time mostly because one or both parties have become complacent. These relationships are unhealthy, as they create no value. They cost both parties time, money and energy. When you see signs that a relationship might be deteriorating to this point, act swiftly. If you deem their business is worth pursuing, extend an olive branch and work together to take the steps needed to salvage their trust and re-earn their long-term business. Otherwise walk away, learn from the experience and cultivate a new level 1 relationship.
Which level do most of your clients fall into? Do you believe you can move level 2-4 relationships into level 1? What should you do and whose help will you need?
A mutually beneficial, high-value relationship with shared accountability for growth is what every company and client want from one another.
The thoughts, tips and articles shared here are designed to help you realize the growth you deserve.