I am big on relationships. Therefore one of my key tenets of growing a business is “Riding the Elephant” . Where you provide a symbiotic relationship to the OEM so that you grow your business while you help them grow theirs.
But times do come when it doesn’t make sense to continue to ride the elephant. Most business relationships work on trust and mutual benefit. if one of these starts faltering then the relationship starts to fail. Then it takes a lot of mature leadership and massive energy to put things back in place.
Sometimes the elephant starts getting arrogant or gets the feeling that they are doing an obligation by carrying you on their back and don’t value your ability to help it get the food. That’s when the elephant starts shaking trying to make you fall off. At that stage you either show your worth where if you don’t help, the elephant is not able to get food- as an example, then may be the elephant will stop trying to throw you off. On the other hand if it is able to find food on its own then it will flex its muscles to throw you off.
In these kind of situations its always a good idea to get of the elephant and find another elephant to ride. Sitting on the elephant for old times sake will only hurt you.
While its good to have long term relationships, the relationships should not end up being annoying and lame.When that starts to happen, it’s time to move forward.
Till next time then.
When we are new into selling, we end up viewing everything from the lens of a transaction. We don’t have a large enough prospect base, at the time so we are desperate to get whatever we can so that we can meet our targets.
And then you have the boss, who is not bothered about how you get the sale, as long as you get it. That actually sends out a wrong signal to the sales guy.
I realized much later that in the B2B space, the world is actually very small and you end up meeting the same people, somewhere or the other. So if you have rubbed someone the wrong way, you can count yourself out of business from that person wherever she goes.
Since then I made it a point to ensure that I was always investing on building relationships….so irrespective of where people,e went, I could pick up the phone and just make a call. Since I was investing in the relationships up-front, it also meant that I was clear that I would keep commitments that I made and would inform in advance if it was not going to be possible to keep it.
The benefits of building relationships , as you climb the corporate ladder are extremely high. You get valued because of your relationships. As you climb higher, the problems you have to solve are also much bigger. It helps if you can leverage your relationships to get you moving.
So work to nurture relationships…..its important in all functions but especially so in the sales and marketing roles, because as McCormack used to say – All things being equal people give orders to friends, all things not being equal, people still give order to friends.
Till next time then.
Relationships are all about building bonds which are generally based on trust. Once people start trust you, they also open up and share things with you. As the trust grows, the bonds grow stronger and people start wanting you to also succeed.
Return on relationships is a concept I learned from Dean Jackson. He’s one of the most fundamentally sound people and can cut through the problems and reach the core reason extremely quickly. You can listen to his podcasts on Morecheeselesswhiskers.com or Cloudlandia or Ilovemarketing.com. He talks about return on relationships from the vantage point of how many customers come back to you for more and refer other customers to you.
My concept of partnerships or “riding the elephant” are all about relationships at the core. Nothing in business moves if you don’t build relationships. How good your relationships are is measured by the fact if you get a lot of your business with repeat customers or you get referred a lot to different people.
There used to be a saying – its not what you know but who you know that is important. There has to be an extension to that statement – its not what you know but who you know, who is willing to refer you, that is important.
So you may have a lot of connections on social media platforms like Linkedin, but if they are not willing to refer you, then they are unimportant. The onus of getting people to refer you is your responsibility so that you program them to think about you when they come across something in which you excel. Getting referrals on a consistent basis is the best way to get business, because you don’t have to invest your time in convincing people to look at you.
Have a look at how much of your revenues are happening because of business coming in from the cold versus repeat customers and customers that have been referred. The lower the first part the more profitable your business.
Till next time then.
While I keep writing about this concept, I am amazed myself by the amount of benefits that “riding the elephant” can have for you, if you nurture the elephant well. The elephant is very loyal and friendly creature if you take care of it and feed it with bananas. But if angered it also tends to go o a rampage and destroy things.
So if you nurture the elephant then while you can take 5 small steps, it can take one large one, so if you are riding it, you can cover a larger distance through the forest versus on foot. Also other wild animals won’t attack you when you riding the elephant.
Some of this is also true with hitching your bandwagon with a large partner (like an OEM) your market reach expands at an amazing speed. These large companies have massive growth agendas so they have big plans to execute and go out in the market. Once they start trusting you they will also take you along with them. You will need to do networking within these companies. Being large it is difficult to navigate through the matrix structure, but if you are determined, and take affirmative action you will be able to find your way. It may take time, so you need to have marketing stamina to last in the market.
As a small company you may not have the bandwidth to fund that kind of a growth, but with the help of the partner you can actually get the volume of business to fund your growth.
There’s once challenge though. Since the partner wants to grow rapidly they will expect you to comply with their demands in terms of the margins you make. These situations you have to manage delicately. What can help is knowing the life time value of a customer. So you know how you will make money from the customer in the long term.
If you know how to manage relationships, this is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Till next time then.