What if how you were trying to differentiate with your customers was wrong? Or at least not the most powerful thing you could do.
I was recently at a networking event where I saw a former client. She noticed me and we shared stories of what was happening but also about Dan and his wife Marion. Dan and Marion were star partners to my client and people I learnt from about what it really means to live by your values in business. We both thought about the same story where I met Dan 3 years prior.
It was so prominent in both our minds that it was worth sharing with you.
It was three years ago my MD and I were invited to attend a suppliers event. Where our client would update us on what’s happening but also get ideas from us.
You can imagine in a room full of suppliers there was a little bravado going on and many wanting to be seen as giving the most value. I have to admit I was one of them (shame on me).
In the crowd of 30 + people there was a couple sitting two rows in front, to the left of me both in bright red t-shirts. They definitely stood out as everyone else had come in full suits and business dress.
They hadn't said a word among the noise. Every time a question was asked by the client they would ask this couple for their opinion. No one else got this special treatment and clearly there was something different about them.
At the break while all the other suppliers rushed off to shake hands and grab a drink I went to speak to this couple.
They were a couple in their late 40's. They looked ordinary enough but were clearly knowledgeable.
My curiosity kicked in and I asked them how long they’d been working with the client. They said 3 years. I was shocked as almost every supplier there had been working with the client for over 5 years including us.
What had caused this couple to get the level of influence they have with the client in a room full of established high value providing professionals?
It was what at that time I had gradually known to be true. Who you are to your customers is more powerful than just what you do for them.
Dan who was the MD explained they had a simple philosophy of work with all their customers guided by three simple pillars.
- Always tell the truth
- Don’t hold anything back
- Do what you say you’ll do
I looked at them and in my ignorance said. Is that it?
Dan smiled and said “that’s it”. I went to my contact and asked if she knew Dan. Immediately she said absolutely. They’re one of our most trusted partners. They always tell us the truth even when if it means we don’t use them, we always know we’re getting the best and they deliver on what they say over and above what we ask.
Verbatim she repeated back what they said. Dan and his wife were running a high character driven business with true integrity. It was so strong that their customers became living testimonials of their values. In a room full of 30 different people and 22 suppliers it wasn’t their T’shirts that stood out but them.
It got me thinking about the relationships I have with my clients. What have I behaved them into speaking about me and my business?
It was then I started to work more closely with Dan and his wife Marion and learnt a lot from them that helped me increase my sales with that customer by 150% in 12 months. Some of those shape my articles today.
You may want to ask yourself the same question.
What do you and your company believe about how you work with your customers?
How is that impacting the way you work, show up and deliver value today?
Maybe your just one behaviour away from having your Dan moment
Abraham Lincoln recognized an important difference between character and reputation.
“Character,” he said “is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
Skill might get you through the door, but character is what keeps you in the room.
If you're a key account manager with the desire to grow in your career get connected to my customer growth email list. If you're a sales leader lets talk about how we enable your team to deliver on these skills at a higher level. Want to learn more on character – check out my popular post on Character HERE
Founder of the Key Account Hack System - New Key Account thinking that transforms customer relationships and creates predictable sales growth.