Many times we go through our business relationships and see things as just business. I couldn’t disagree more when I hear this. Businesses claim either switching suppliers, firing someone, or cancelling an order, “it’s just business”.
Saying it’s just business means it meant nothing to you. It’s saying that money was the only aspect of the decision that mattered. I can assure you that this is rarely the situation or this is rarely a situation that could not have been avoided. There are steps that could have been taken to avoid your supplier, client or business associate from feeling that the relationship was just business.
What they are saying is that you made it just business. You failed to make some aspect of what you do different from another. Whether it was your followup, your understanding of what you provided to them, or your disassociation with their needs; something was lacking. If you sell products, how involved are you with your suppliers. Is your product a commodity like gas that has little difference from supplier to supplier or do you provide custom cabinets. If you purchase your products from a manufacturer, is that manufacturer willing to create a two way street of communication? Can that communication increase the value you bring to the table?
What I mean by this, when you reach out to someone that supplies you with product, are you doing more than ordering? Find a reason to assist them in assisting you. I love the phrase from “Jerry Maguire”; Help me, help you. Help me, help you.” It applies directly in this situation. Have you ever volunteered with them to field test some of their ideas? Have you ever had your sales manager call and speak to their product development team to discuss a feature that would change how they see you? This phone call could cause you a decrease in costs because you are involved in a bigger part of the process. It could also prevent them from looking for bigger and better sales partners because they see you as too integral in their development process and eventual profit.
If you supply a home service, what’s your finishing touch? Do you leave the house with that client amazed or do they simply think you did adequate? An example, Company A and Company B provide home security services to a community. Both alerted families during a rash of break-ins that saved them their goods and got the bad guys arrested. Company A finished the call and wished the family well. Company B finished the call, wished the family well, and followed up with a salesman visiting the home to make sure no new needs had arisen and the family felt safe with their present level of protection. Which company has set forth the best pathway that might lead to a referral?
Differentiate your company to people on both ends of your supply and sales chain. It can change whether you are in business in 5 years.