By Josh McDonald, Senior Project Manager with Nexus 5 Group
Many of us have received the email, invite, or office visit from a salesman or business development person calling on us with what we always assume is an “ask”. I’m not referring to spam emails, but those vendors that could directly impact our business or those vendors that we already partner with transactionally.
We typically invite a client or potential client to coffee or lunch with the intent, at some point, of revealing our own “ask.” This is typically assumed when meeting dates are agreed upon. After all, this is how most businesses are built.
In our efforts to "market upwards" we might be missing potential, valuable partnerships. Sometimes we don't allow ourselves the space to be marketed to. It's easy to see the value in marketing to our clients, but where is the value in the downline?
Below, we're going to dive into part one of two topics regarding business development and relationship building.
The Importance of Developing Your Downline
Simply put, when referring to marketing down, I am talking about existing or potential vendors or subcontractors that provide YOU a product or service. These are the people and companies you are relying on to assist in fulfilling the needs and expectations of your clients. They perform a vital role in your business and can drastically affect the outcome of your service or product.
Too many times, we negate the importance of the development of our downline. Here are two reasons developing our downline is vital to the success of Nexus 5 Group.
First, spending time developing our downline can help eliminate the transaction-only mentality.
The transaction-only mentality discards relationship and solely relies on a product or service provided for payment. Even though transactional accountability is necessary in business, I believe there is a better way to spur trust, understanding, and communication in business relationships.
By spending this time “marketing down”, you develop relational connections which assist in creating a clearer path of communication and understanding. This makes those times of accountability and tough conversations easier and also provides a runway for understanding and clarity.
When issues arise, relational connections also help in positioning yourself best for the tough conversations. You understand the service or product being provided but also understand the people providing it. No matter what we do, our business is relational whether we know it or not. Developing relationship provides the tools to navigate the nuances of people and personalities. Developing relationship also produces true, mutual understanding that binds us more deeply than a paycheck. Ultimately, we know relationships provide for our long term success.
Second, downline relationships are an extension of our team.
These people may not be on the payroll in terms of payroll tax, but they’re on the payroll. They represent our company, and they represent us well.
I assume quality business leaders want to know their team. Why not also know your extended team? Find the leaders, owners and managers that impact those external teams. Just as our internal teams need direction, feedback, encouragement, and support, external teams need it as well.
How well do you know your external team? Do you actually know THEM, or do you simply know what they do for you and for work? Spring for lunch. Ask about their family. Ask about their workload and pinch points. Show appreciation and respect. Let them know you care. Make the connections and increase your company's value through relationship.
This ongoing effort will also provide you valuable insight into their business and the impact they can have on yours.
Our ability to develop relationship in our downline directly impacts our upline relationships and ability to meet expectations. There is real gold here and many of us have let it sit buried for too long.
In part 2 of this series, we will share a different outlook on upline business development meetings and attempt to provide perspective in relation to our downline partners.