Building Turtles

The struggling economy, unemployment, and credit crunch continue to dominate our news sources. Companies and small businesses alike are having to reduce the cost of doing business. Some companies are cutting back on perks, some are cutting bonuses, many have reduced head count. As I circulate in the business community I meet with people holding various positions at a wide variety of companies and organizations. Some have been effected much more deeply than others, but everyone is feeling some sort of strain.

In a business environment like this it may seem a logical step to say that reducing expenses would be the primary motivator in choosing business partnerships. It has been my experience, however, that the value of a relationship continues to trump the value of a dollar.

In my role with Staples Advantage I am able to legitimately offer potential clients an overall reduction in supply line spending. If it was that simple – if it always came down to dollars – I could win every time. We all could. The reality is that companies, businesses, and I believe people in general, are looking for more.

Sales coaches may suggest that if you meet all the customers needs and are less expensive but still don’t create a partnership that you missed something along the way. They may suggest that you used the wrong closing technique; you talked about too may personal things; not enough personal things; focused on “A” and “B” when the customer only cared about “C”… There may be truth there. Evaluation is a valuable tool. However, after the evaluation turns up nothing what do you do? Assume you met the one unmovable person walking the face of the earth? Mutter and scuff your feet as you shuffle off to whatever is next?

The truth is you did miss something in the process. You missed the relationship or even the perceived relationship with your competition. At some point in the past a relationship was created. If you fail to factor that into your equation, it’s like trying to complete a puzzle without one piece in the center.

I am convinced that the companies, professionals, salespeople, and even the families that will weather this current storm successfully will do so by consistently building relationships in order to help them build their business, increase their result, and strengthen their household. While it may not be the quick and easy approach I feel that it will have the longest lasting rate of success and will provide you with the most stable customer base and support network.

Building business through relationships is like a modern retelling of the race between the tortoise and the hare. Steady forward progress, consistent effort, and vigilant focus on the goal – on the finish line – will separate the great from the good; the genuine from the greedy.

Now go be a turtle. You may actually like it…

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