I recently finished the book “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time” by Keith Ferrazzi. Surprisingly, it was brought to my attention by a stay at home mom friend of mine. I can’t remember how she found out about it, but she’s an avid reader too, so who knows.
The book goes through how to build relationships and how one can lead to many others. More than anything, I learned that you never want to take advantage of a customer and tick them off from the reference perspective. I’m not sure about yours, but the network security industry is tight knit and people know each other and move around. I can expect that if something blows up with a customer, there’s a good chance other customers/prospects will find out about it. And likewise, if there’s a great article written about a customer or a customer is extremely impressed with my company, others will find out about it too. Does word of mouth marketing come to mind?
In the book Ferrazzi makes the point that no one is a self made man/woman. I couldn’t agree more. When I’m done with a press release/case study or a customer has a great article appear, I send out a note to the Sales team to let them know of the success. And without a doubt, I thank the Sales person for keeping the customer happy. I would love to be able to take full credit for the success of the reference program, but it’s simply not true. Yes, I am responsible for it, but if the Sales team was ticking off the customers every day, I wouldn’t have happy customers to write about. So, do yourself a favor and give credit to those who deserve it. Thank those who make your job easier! In the long run, it’ll make your job even easier.
Also make sure that you are letting your customer know how they will benefit from your interaction. As a vendor, I have to remember that 1) my customers are working with many vendors 2) being a reference for me isn’t the top priority for my customer and 3) my customers want to succeed. I need to help them. There’s nothing better to help the career of my customer than getting them into a top tier publication or giving them something to show to their management to prove that they’ve saved the company $XXX. Show your customers what’s in it for them because if you don’t another vendor will!
One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Loyalty may be the forgotten virtue of the modern age, but it remains the hallmark of any strong relationship and a value many companies are working hard to bring into their day-to-day practices.” Need I say more?
Keep your customers happy, treat them well and respect them and your relationship with them. I love it when I leave a company and my previous customers still keep in contact. It’s then that I know I did my job well.
How do you build your relationships with your customers?
Ferrazzi’s follow up book “Who’s Got Your Back?” might be on version 2 of my “Dear Santa, I Want Books for Christmas!” If you have books you want me to add to the list, let me know!