A colleague and I were signing in to see a prospect about a request for proposal when we noticed some competitors’ names, including the fellow who had been representing the client in the most recent past, and whom we naturally felt had the inside track this time around.
To test the waters, when the prospect came around to see us, I jokingly said, “Looks like Steve beat us to the punch.” The prospect’s reply was absolutely chilling to anyone who sells for a living.
“Oh you mean Steve my new best friend? If he had been on the case you wouldn’t be here. Let’s go to my office.”
We shot each other a glance and headed off to the prospect’s office but the point had been made. Steve had blown it because he had not paid enough attention to the prospect between transactions. Of course now that there was money to be made, he was all over his “old buddy.”
Several years ago, the consulting firm Bain conducted a study to determine why customers leave, and the results are a reminder just how important customer relationships are:
- 1% die
- 3% move away
- 5% form other relationships
- 9% leave for competitive reasons
- 14% leave due to dissatisfaction with the product
- 68% leave because someone was rude, indifferent or discourteous to them
Our friend Steve had a reputation for being disingenuous and opportunistic and it was catching up to him.
World class business relationships require just as much commitment between transactions as they do when a deal is in play. In fact, even more, because it is during the quieter times that personal rapport can be deeply developed and maintained.