By Josh McDonald, Senior Project Manager with Nexus 5 Group
I have vivid memories of my grandpa from my childhood. I remember his plaid shirts, his blinker on for what seemed like miles, his hard work, and his meekness. Some other things I remember are his shoebox full of 8-track tapes on the floorboard of his pickup, listening to "old-to-me" gospel and country music as we drove, the former 610 AM station- 61 Country, and Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story.
The Rest of the Story consisted of stories presented as little-known or forgotten facts on a variety of subjects. Some key element of the story (usually the name of some well-known person) was held back until the end. The broadcasts always concluded with a variation on the tag line, "And now you know... the rest of the story."
I remember the excitement and anticipation while waiting to hear the big reveal. I remember hoping we didn't get to our destination before Paul Harvey came back from commercial break to unveil the mystery. There was something about the suspense that sucked me in every time.
In part one of this story we discussed the importance of developing your downline. In part two, I'm going to look at the development of the upline and hopefully provide a different perspective.
The Rest of the Story
As with the development of any new relationship, meetings with new or potentially new clients can feel intimidating to some. It’s the “first date.” You want to look presentable; you wish to be liked and want to find out if you like them as well. You’re both looking for a match. It must be a fit in both directions. However, as with developing your downline, it is easy for this interaction and future partnerships to fall into the transaction-only mentality.
As I mentioned in part one, the transaction-only mentality discards relationships 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. Through this lens, we're going to take a look at two areas of developing your upline.
Relationships from a Business Perspective
First, the mistake many of us make is the angle in which we approach these meetings and relationship development in general. The underlying theme is “I’ll give you this if you give me… (typically dollars).”
We all know there is a certain expectation and assumption in meetings to discuss business. However, instead of entering a meeting with the, “What can I gain?” mentality, why is our approach not, “What can I provide?”
I’m not talking about a service or product for hire. I’m talking about relationships. What are you providing in the relationship with your clients? There are a lot of competitors that can provide the end product, but it's the journey of relationship, communication, transparency, and honesty that will set you apart.
People need relationships. We need to know others are in our corner. We need to know others are looking out for our best interests; others are supporting us and holding us accountable. Your clients need to know this as well. They need to know that you will make the tough calls, take responsibility and ownership, and provide them with the communication and tools necessary in developing a successful partnership.
Relationships work when the effort flows in both directions. Providing the information and education necessary for your clients to make the decisions that are best for them may not always increase your bottom line. Sometimes the facts will negatively impact the bottom line. However, these moments build trust in relationships and set your business up for exponential future growth and success.
Relationships from a Personal Perspective
The second area has absolutely nothing to do with work. When was the last time you called a client to simply ask how they were doing, check on their kids or spouse, or ask about their kid’s football game? Are you genuinely developing relationships or have you done just enough under the guise of relationship to gain the results wanted for your business?
I get it. By no means am I saying you have to be BFF with every person in your professional circle. I know this is a daunting and unrealistic task. The point I'm making here simply focuses on our motives.
You will never have the capacity to take deep dives relationally with every client, vendor, subcontractor, colleague, or business partner. That said, we can adjust our lens and approach to relationships. There will be some relationships that stay closer to the shallow end of the pool. This is still okay. But, with a different approach, there are others that will develop into long-lasting, foundational relationships.
Don’t be afraid to develop true relationships with your clients. Though we all strive to be the best at what we do, there are times we fail. Relationships extend grace and understanding. When issues arise, relational connections also help you to position yourself for tough conversations. Relationships are what truly develop a business.
I can hear the Paul Harvey voice now... “And now you know… the rest of the story.”