Our society is built on exchanges between two parties. To me, it only makes sense to be honest about this relationship. And with that honesty comes a certain amount of drive to create and enrich these relationships. This isn’t a used car type of sales, the ol’ bait and switch. This is genuine, honest relationship building to facilitate trust and, in turn, facilitate the mutual exchange of goods or services that each party needs.
My dad was a barber and at the beginning of each appointment, he would strike up a conversation about their life. He knew names, birth dates, anniversaries, relationships, career paths, their stories, their likes, dislikes, their cut, their color, and dare I say their hopes and dreams. When he retired, he moved the chair into a room we built onto our house where he would cut a few, very close friends’ and families’ hair. Near his barber chair, he placed a box filled with index cards.
I asked about their relevance once and was amazed to find each card held the notes from every hair cut he ever gave. Let me reiterate that—every hair cut he ever gave. Those cards contained the names, birth dates, anniversaries, relationships, career paths, stories, likes, dislikes, cut, color, and dare I say, hopes and dreams of every person to ever grace his chair. It did not matter if they were one-time customers. Everyone got his undivided attention when they sat in the chair. Before each appointment, he would reference that person’s card to remind himself of their life. This wasn’t disingenuous. He deeply cared for his clients and the relationship of their transaction, the haircut.
What does this have to do with Digital Marketing, or my position as Art Director? Everything.
Relationship building does not stop at the sales funnel, nor at the hand-off of an account to the account team, after design rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, (or God forbid 5). Every interaction with our clients is an opportunity to reinforce our product, our services, and our company. This, in turn, reinforces the client’s infinite wisdom in choosing our agency.
We’re all humans and we all share quite a lot of relatable experiences. Find the common ground, work hard to create a common language, and start understanding the “other side.” However, consistency is the key for the relationship to honest and true.
Always Be Selling.
For now, I do not need a filing system for the people I interact with. However, at the beginning of every client interaction, I ask about their lives. I ask about the small facts I have gathered in our past contacts. I make sure they know I am here for them, I care, and that I appreciate our relationship. This is what I mean by “Always Be Selling.” Every client interaction is an opportunity to reinforce our product, our services, and our company. We have an invested interest in the well-being of their company, in the successfulness of their campaign, and in our work.
Selling shouldn’t be the sole responsibility of your sales department, new biz person, or management team. Selling is the responsibility of everyone in your company, or it should be. And here is where “Always Be Selling” takes a sharp turn from the movie—this shift happens only if you allow your team the freedom and trust to sell through their actions, talent, great service, and not from fear.
Watch the movie again, I think we all can agree that Alec had some issues. Unfortunately a lot of businesses still run in this outdated model, from the top down, with fear and blackboards. Instead, reinvent the wheel and give your employees the latitude to surprise you. They’re the best brand ambassadors you have and the work they perform, daily, is the strongest sales pitch you can hope to send out.
(And if you haven’t yet, go watch Glengarry Glen Ross…)