You’ve got to be Barry White.
You need to be a part of their world.
At the start of the relationship, at the end of the relationship and all the way through the relationship, you have to set the tone, you have to show up and you have to be there for your customers.
At the start of the relationship you’ve got to win the first engagement.
You’ve got to win the first mile.
You can’t just suddenly hit people and start selling – it doesn’t work anymore.
You’ve got to serve them endlessly.
You’ve got to serve them and serve them and serve them and carry on serving them.
At the start of the relationship, you are building the relationship, you don’t have a customer yet, you are trying to convince someone that you will look after them more than anybody else, that your price point is strong, that your value ads are amazing.
They don’t know you yet, so the start of the relationship really sets the tone for everything that’s going to come next so you’ve really got to nail that, you’ve really got to get the start just right.
The end of the relationship, well you need to bow out gracefully, without ego, always focused on making them feel good, even though they’ve fired you as a supplier.
You’ve got to take the sting out of the pain, you mustn’t make them feel bad because you don’t know what’s going to happen, they may have made a mistake, they may want to come back to you in a week, they may refer other people to you because you’re a better fit.
They don’t necessarily hate you, they don’t necessarily want to see you out of business, they’ve just had to make a difficult decision and you have to trust that they’ve made the right decision.
And sometimes they might not have made the right decision, but here’s a truth, if you tell people they’ve made a bad decision, they’re not going to want to work with you more, they’re going to want to work with you less.
You can’t critique the opposition.
You can’t go negative about anything.
And certainly you cannot be negative about the choices they’ve made.
Along the journey itself you need to be there for them at every stage of the journey.
Through thick and thin.
Through win and fail.
Because the journey is where the truth about your ability to have a relationship with them really comes out.
It’s really easy to promise at the beginning and it’s really super easy to apologise at the end.
But it’s the journey where the customer finds out what you’re really made of, what you’re like to work with, where your generosity of spirit is, or not as the case may be.
This is where they find out who you really are.
So you’ve got to get the start right, you’ve got to get the end right but you’ve got to absolutely make sure that the middle section, the journey of the relationship, is a powerful account of why they made the right decision and why you are the best choice to work with.
In the immortal words of Barry Wight;
You need to be their first, you need to be their last and you need to be their everything.
It really is that simple.
Anything less will mean that the start of the relationship goes wrong, the end of the relationship is sour and the middle of the relationship did nothing to keep their business.
And we know that retention costs less than recruitment.
So if you want to stay in business, you need to get your Barry White game on, you need to be their first, their last and their everything.