Treat Everyone As If They’re Your Most Important Client
First rule of business, or specifically – business relationships is; “treat everyone as if they’re your most important client”. I believe it was my old COO who gave me that advice and he had taken it from one of the classic business books, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People“. If you are in business and have not read that; you should.
If you are managing people, relationships, sales and marketing managers, anything that may cause you human interaction at some point; if you follow the principles laid out in this book, you can’t go wrong.
Some people may read this and roll their eyes and say, “BUT I’m the client. They should be kissing my ….”. So let’s look at a couple of simple scenarios.
1. You’re a marketing manager and you’re purchasing ad space on a website. You are on the phone with this site’s biz dev. executive and you love the price as well as the site. The one ‘glitch’ is that because the site is “newer”, there are no real time stats; hence, you are unable to tweak creative or even pull the ad if need be. There are several potential longer term solutions to this, but in the ‘short term’, what do you do? Do you A) Not work with the company B) Tell the Biz Dev exec you “cannot work with them unless you have real time stats” or C) Explain to the biz dev exec. that “you are in a ‘partnership’ together and in order for this to be a “win/win” for both of you; you are accustomed to being able to see your stats and make changes real time.” You then ask, “How are other companies dealing with this” and / or “Do you have any suggestions as to how we can work together to combat this?”.
Most of us will read the line above and say, ‘option C’. However, in the ‘real world’, ads are pulled all the time for lack of reporting. Those selling ad space get yelled at all the time for not giving stats. Is this a business relationship that will continue in a positive manner in the future if we go with option A or B? Definitely not.
2. You are a manager. One of your team members comes to you because they have an issue with another member of the team. What they are ‘complaining’ about, you’ve heard 100 times before. In your head, you’re immediate reaction is: “I don’t have time for this crap”. However, this is one of your top employees. Best way to handle this? Ask questions and find out the root issue. Is this individual complaining because he / she is insecure? Are they in need of some attentions / positive reinforcement? Have they just had a bad day? Take the extra 5 minutes to listen (as you would your most important client). Sometimes all people need to do is ‘vent’. That extra 5 minutes could be a ‘make it / break it’ for that employee.
So, how do you treat everyone as if their your most important client? Well, first you have to ensure you treat your clients well; or that your outlook on how to treat clients is correct. We can boil it down to a two key tactics: 1) Respect 2) Empathy.
In management, the best managers ‘treat people as they would like to be treated’. Cliche? Yes; but also true.
More importantly; be empathetic. Whether it be a vendor, an employee, a colleague, or even your boss coming to you with an issue, don’t snap back a response. Take a step back and put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Try and see the situation as they do before you respond.
If we all just took 10 seconds before responding and we put ourself in another’s shoes; we are empathetic, more likely to be respectful – and this will probably treat the individual as if they’re you’re most important client.