If You Build It, They Will Come. What every organization can build for long term success.
One of my favorite all-time movies was made it 1988 and yes it is sports related. It is Field of Dreams. For those of you not familiar with this classic, let me give you a brief summary. Kevin Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer who has an unfinished past with his father. The one thing they had in common was baseball. One day while working in the field Ray (Costner), hears a voice compelling him to “build something” If you know it say it with me…”If you build it, he will come” I still get chills. Costner followed his instincts and built a baseball field.
To make a long story short, because Costner took action and did something extraordinary he was able to not only mend an important relationship, he also provided a great value for others as well. Perhaps the greatest scene of the movie was the last one. As the camera panned across the horizon, you could see cars coming from miles and miles to experience something extraordinary.
While in the movie the key item built was a baseball field. In business the key item we can build to make sure they will come time and time again, is a bridge.
The bridge of mutual trust: It should be a given that our customers and potential customers can trust us to take care of them. If we cannot establish this we are done. But trust works both ways. For example, how would you feel if one of your customers approached you, and informed you they just purchased something you offer from one of your competitors without giving you the first opportunity? Why did this happen? Did they not know you offered the product or service? Or, did they not value the relationship enough to think of you first?
When I was a sales manager for a financial services company, an agent walked in my office and was upset after visiting with a client. He had just delivered a piece of the client’s estate plan only to discover that someone else had filled piece of the plan. The agent stated to his client that he could have provided that same service and then it happened…some of the most dreaded words your customer or client can ever say to you; “I didn’t know you offered that”. ( As a side note sometimes, we may be afraid to ask for more because we do not want to hear “NO”, but I submit I would much rather hear my client say “No” than hear them say “I didn’t know” . ) Moving on…
Just as damaging to the process is the latter question asked above, did they not value the relationship enough to think of you first? Let me ask you a question. Are you transaction minded or relationship minded? Which matters more, the quick sale or the long term relationship? Are your customers account numbers or individuals with needs you can fill both now and in the future?
The key to understanding the bridge of mutual trust it to understand that relationships are never one sided. They work both ways. In order to get from point to point time and time again, there must be a confident pathway to cross. For you see, the goal is not to cross from need to solution just one time, but to cross time and time again, without thinking about the directions! In summary, if you consistently demonstrate value to customers and clients and prove it unconditionally, you have the right to trust them to give you first opportunity at all their business. Simply put, if you’ve got it, they get it from you!
Here is the blueprint for building your bridge of mutual trust:
The first “yes’ is just the beginning. The process to long term success is to understand that when customers and clients sign on the dotted line this does not close the deal, this is just the beginning. Many times I have seen businesses go above and beyond to gain new accounts and when the deal is finished; quietly slip the customer in a filing cabinet only to be seen or heard from when they make contact (more on this later). The engagement is over. If you offer more services than the initial purchase, then you must understand that this is the beginning and you must continue to go above and beyond just as you did to earn the business in the first place!
A proactive approach to communication: I’ll be the first to tell you, this is hard but it is critical to the mutual trust bridge. Ask yourself this question. Is the only time I communicate with my customers and clients is when they contact me? Several years I was introduced to a very sweet lady who had experienced a very rough time in the investment world. She had been taken for a ride (that is the only way to put it). She was scared to death to do anything but circumstances dictated a change in philosophy in order to provide her the income she needed. She agreed and we placed her funds into some longer term, safe, fixed rate income producing vehicles. Before the maturity date of our initial purchase, I called her and informed her that her rate was going to drop but was still better that what we could get elsewhere and I wanted to let her know not to be alarmed when she got the letter telling her this news.
Here is the point. I could have waited until the letter hit her mailbox and waited for my phone to ring and hear her voice say “Did you know my rate was dropping?” I chose to be proactive and it made all the difference in the world. FYI, I met Mary in 2001 and still see her at least 4 times a year.
Now…you may be saying, “Tim, you can’t possibly expect me to do this with every customer. It would be impossible” and I would respond that I understand completely. Not all of my clients require this level of communication as described above, but if I promised it, I must and I will deliver it. What I am saying is this; you and your organization should have the mentality to be proactive as best you can with those you serve. While the approach to proactive may be different, the mentality and commitment to implement is not…it is by CHOICE.
So there you have it; the most important thing you can build to sustain your business and the critical components to building you mutual bridge of trust. Remember relationships like trust work both ways and to end this article I leave you with a line from “Field of Dreams” that says what I believe you will experience time and time again by building the extraordinary…”People will come Ray, people will most definitely come!”