Here is a question I like to ask myself every once and awhile as a salesperson: Will my clients miss me when I’m gone?
Sounds funny doesn’t it? I mean, it’s a little like asking what we want written on our tombstone, but I am not being quite that dramatic.
What I really mean is: Have I become an important enough part of the fabric of my customers’ intellectual and emotional lives that they would truly be sad to see me go both as a business resource and as a friend?
I have served a number of people as an advisor and salesperson who have become very good friends, some with relationships spanning decades. Same goes with a number of people who have known me as their client and friend. We helped each other grow as businesspeople and we were there for each other beyond business, sharing great memories with each other, and often with our families along the way.
Relationships like these do not happen overnight, they evolve as a pattern of reliability and trust is established, along with a true and fair exchange of benefits and goodwill. Over time, the one dimensional connection of buyer/seller is replaced by a more complex and rich set of feelings that both sides relish and try to protect through the inevitable ups and downs of working and being together.
Recently, I encountered a fellow whom I had not seen in many years since our respective paths had diverged. We laughed a bit about old times when I was a young service provider and he was an important client of mine. I eventually moved on to another company to further my career at the time. As we concluded our reminiscence, he paid me one of the nicest compliments I have ever received.
He said, all these years later . . .”When you left, you were missed.” For me, that is about as good as it gets.