Understand your customers. The key is, what’s going to help somebody’s business, help them grow their business. If, ultimately, you’re bringing them an opportunity to add greater profitability, greater efficiency to their organization then, by definition, they should look to you as someone that they see as a valued partner.
It’s key that you understand their business, whatever their business is, and make sure that whatever the offering, you give them slots into the model, that you’re not trying to fit a round peg into a square hole sort of thing.
You have to, first and foremost, get to whoever the senior decision-makers are within that company. Often, buyers aren’t owners of the company or part of their executive or directors team, and their objective might be just to get the lowest price possible.
Deliver on your promises time and again. No good or strong friendships are just based on the first impressions, they have to be built up over a set period of time; certainly it’s not going to happen overnight.
You have to be able to provide your customer with something that they feel they haven’t as of yet seen from someone else. Again, when you’re in a commoditized world like we are, that’s not easy. I would think the only way to do that is to develop that relationship, and again, time is the only way that’s going to work.
Maintain an honest relationship. If you’re going to say, ‘I’ll have it there Friday’ … make sure it’s there Friday. If you can’t have it there Friday, make sure you follow up on the original commitment and say, ‘OK, I know I said Friday; it’s now going to be Monday.’ Don’t just walk away from the commitment you made and cross your fingers with the hope that it goes away.
If you’re going to make a commitment, live and die by it. If you’re going to miss that commitment for whatever reason, be honest about it.