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We all know that in one of the greatest films of all time, “The Godfather,” Michael Corleone said, “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business.”
But why can’t it be both? Let’s break down, arguably, one of the greatest movie quotes ever, and maybe some 40 years later we can change it.
First off, doesn’t every relationship need to be personal before it becomes business? I’m guessing I wouldn’t be able to walk into a customer’s office on my first day of work, shake a few hands, get into the head purchasing agent’s office and get handed an order! I wouldn’t get past the receptionist. Why? I haven’t developed any sort of relationship with that person to earn their trust, which in turn, means I haven’t made any personal connection.
Ponder this point as we move forward together on our mission to combine business and personal. How can your relationship with a customer get you more business? It has to start, thrive and end with a personal, close and trustworthy bond. So how can we cash in that “bond” and make it both business and personal?
We’ve all had that super comfortable conversation with a customer when they drop these wonderful words: “Sorry I gave that order to your competition; it’s only business.”
Taking business personally
“It’s only business.” Guess what. We all take that statement personally! Why? I guess it means we love what we do, and we feel that we deserve every order. If we didn’t, maybe that’s the answer to why we lost. But forget that. We do love what we do. Of course it’s personal. We feel hurt, unsure of the relationship. We may begin to question our ability, and most importantly, worry about our business.
Stop me if you’ve had this experience. You take three customers on a golf trip. All of you fly first class, play three of the top 100 golf courses in America, and eat at places that start with Morton’s, Mastro’s, and Del Frisco’s. Maybe the group spends time at the spa, you spend a day poolside in a cabana and the resort is the Four Seasons or J.W. Marriott. At the airport when you return home to “reality,” everyone grabs bags, hugs good-bye, and you walk away with the biggest grin on your face. Maybe you have a bit more pep in your step knowing that you crushed it on this trip, and you now have a great “relationship” moving forward with these customers.
Then, a few months later, you get a call from one of the customers whom you shared this wonderful trip with (and probably took a few selfies overlooking the Monterey Peninsula), and he needs to talk to you about being high on a job they have.
You try your best after sharpening your pencil, but you just can’t get to the number he needs, and he gives this one to the “other” guy. The OTHER GUY? Was the other guy in his luggage and played golf with us? Did he pay for the four-pound lobster appetizer? Did he forget the hug we shared at the airport with his Italian host? Why did he just make it only business?
Well, I’m here to say that needs to end. Mainly because I keep hearing there’s no more loyalty in this business. How can there be any when these situations arise and we separate the two? Now, don’t get me wrong; we still need to be competitive. No one expects to be 20 percent higher and still get the order by leveraging a golf trip on that.
But wouldn’t we all like to take a “last look?”
We might even say no to the deal. Nevertheless, when presented with the opportunity to say yes or no, this is a win for all of us.
Having a last look is an interesting concept, isn’t it? Is having it good or bad? Think about it: If we are getting the last look that means we’re high on our pricing, but we probably have a better personal relationship than our competition. I’ll bet that 99.9 percent of the time we are going to help the customer out and secure an order. What if we don’t get the last look? Isn’t that a sign of a weak or inferior relationship compared to our competition?
Make it both
Admittedly, I’m not a coffee guy, but I do cherish a double espresso after one of those Morton’s dinners so here’s why I believe we can make it both personal and business. How many of us drive an extra 5 or 10 minutes past a Dunkin' Donuts just to go to Starbucks? Instead, why not “spread it around?” Haven’t we all heard that one? Why don’t we do Dunkin' on Monday, Starbucks on Tuesday, and throw in McDonald’s on Wednesday? You get the point.
Well, that would be ludicrous, that’s why. The fact is you love Starbucks. You rely on their quality, accuracy, and those wonderful people working diligently to make your morning glory by adding an all important touch: “Brian, your double espresso is ready.” See how Starbucks made it both personal and business, and you didn’t even know it. So why can’t our customers buy the products and services we sell every day without even thinking about our competition?
Let’s use my Starbucks creation again for this next paradigm. Let’s assume that Starbucks started to lose its quality, accuracy and personal touch. And being the loyal customer we are, we happen to ask a manager one morning a few questions:
“Can you tell me why your coffee isn’t as good as it once was?”
“Why didn’t you put skim milk in this?”
“And you called me Brett instead of Brian.”
And what if the answer was, “Sir, it’s only business, nothing personal.” I’m betting that the next day you won’t be holding a green mermaid cup.
We can all do it, we need it, and our great industry needs it!
Brian Mazzocchi is the owner of Repco Associates Inc. He has spent nearly 20 years at Repco in various positions covering Northern Illinois, Lake and Porter counties in Indiana and Wisconsin. He can be reached at 630-932-9900, or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more at www.repcoassociates.com.