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Love will Keep us Together

by Mark Deavall

In 1974, Neil Sedaka wrote the song “Love Will Keep Us Together”. It was later recorded by Captain and Tennille as their debut song, and went on to be number one on the Billboard Top 100! All of this has absolutely nothing to do with what I want to talk to you about this month, but the lyrics of the song do. They go like this:

Love, love will keep us together
Think of me babe whenever
Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song
Don't mess around,
You gotta be strong
Just Stop [stop], 'cause I really love You
Stop [stop], I'll be thinking of you
Look in my heart and let love keep us together

The song talks about two things – the relationship between two people being so strong, that temptation can’t cause it to fall apart and, the relationship being so strong that when temptation does appear on the horizon, the first thought of the parties in the relationship, is about their partners.

In business this has never been more true than today. In an economy that is becoming increasingly challenging, the competition is trying very hard to chomp away at your piece of the pie. And they are making themselves and / or their product look very attractive to your customer. Just like the “sweet talking girl” in the song, they are dressing their offering up very attractively and making some very seductive sounds. You can’t stop this from happening. It is inevitable – and you’re doing the same to your competition.

Marriages that are based on good strong relationships don’t fall apart, but when a partner in a marriage feels as if the other partner is acting in an indifferent manner toward them, that marriage becomes vulnerable to that “sweet talking girl”. It’s interesting to note that, of the customers that your business loses every year, 68% move to another supplier because they feel that your business doesn’t care about them anymore. Their reason for changing loyalties has nothing to do with the price of your product, the packaging of your product, the efficiency of your product or the quality of your product. They changed loyalties because they feel that you’re indifferent toward them. In other words, they feel that you don’t really care whether or not they are your customer.

Now just stop for a second and work out how much that 68% equates to in terms of cash! In many businesses new sales merely replaces the business that’s lost, and growth in the business is as a result of existing customers growing their businesses and thereby requiring more of the service or product that they buy from you. In other words, if the 68% hole was plugged, the profit of a company would be that much more.

So how to plug the hole? Getting back to the analogy that I used at the beginning of this article, a committed relationship or a marriage has far more chance of surviving the rigours of life if there are many contributory relationships surrounding it. In other words, the parents in law have a strong relationship and the two fathers and mothers in law actually like each other. The same goes for brothers and sisters in law. In other words the relationship between the two committed parties is not out there on its own. It is “insured” by other strong, supporting relationships.

And yet in business, we generally depend on the salesperson to be the relationship builder. This person has to make sales and therefore, because people buy from people that they like, the salesman is expected to forge and maintain a solid relationship with a client. This situation places the client relationship at huge risk. What if a new person is employed at your client, and doesn’t have a relationship with the salesperson? What if they have a fall-out with the salesperson? What if the rest of the company doesn’t deliver on the promises made by the salesperson? I think you get the point.

If we want to stop clients moving to our competitors, more people in the company need to get involved with the relationships with clients. I am currently busy with a project for a truck manufacturer, and have been saying to them that the involvement of a dealership with its client should be dealer principal to MD, financial manager at the dealership to financial manager at the client, workshop manager to fleet manager, debtors person at the dealer to creditors person at the client and so on. In other words, there are multiple relationships between a company and its client, which means that if one of them falls apart, there are many others holding the client relationship together. The relationship with the client is not dependant on one person in your company any longer. It’s a team effort! Everyone in your company is involved with their respective counterpart at your client, and therefore everyone knows the expectations of the customer and is able to perform accordingly.

Even in small businesses this is possible. “Shoot wide” in your client company. From the very beginning, build relationships with as many people as possible – especially those that have an influence on your future as a service or product provider.

If your business is one that has a particular person as a client, and there are no others with which to form relationships, estate agents for example, get all the people involved in the deal talking with your client. From your branch manager (yes Mr branch manager, you are involved in every deal whether you like it or not), through the person arranging the finance to the person doing the electrical inspection.

Seem like a pipe dream? Maybe a year ago it was, but in the different economy that we find ourselves in today it is a business imperative. People are looking for value in their business dealings, and it is the people in your company that provide that value. Build an awareness among the people in your business that each one of them is individually responsible for the health of the relationship with your client.

Make it as difficult as possible for anyone to steal your piece of pie. Create those rock solid “peer to peer” relationships with your clients and its almost as if you’ve thrown an impenetrable fence around them – with the competitors on the outside!

I trust that you have found benefit in this article. If you would like to contact me or have me talk to the people in your company, please call me on 27 11 609-1264, or e-mail me

If you would like to copy this article for any reason, please be sure to copy the entire article including this line.

 
 
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