Here we go again, the second week in a
row, where I’m using a bit of a cheesy phrase. Don’t break back into jail – it is
a phrase typically heard when a recently divorced person begins to date too
seriously too quickly. Or, at times, when two exes get back together. It is not
the nicest comment and it is not intended to be.
And so the story goes in sales, where
a relationship ends, and then somewhere down the road someone wants to do
business together again. Do you not remember why you broke up in the first
place? Chasing revenue, to a certain extent, is a sales person’s priority. But,
there is a difference in chasing revenue, and ultimately chasing quality
relationships that drive revenue. When you break up with a client, you may not
want to break back into jail.
Even in a global economy the market you
sell in tends to be small and so you will inevitably cross paths with a former
client. Depending on the reasons why the relationship ended may determine how
you treat each other when your paths do cross for a second or third time. Break
up’s happen. It is a fact of life when dealing with relationships of all sorts,
both personal and professional, when you’re younger or older. I have found,
especially in business, to keep meticulous notes about the relationships I have
with clients including each individual I encounter.
Note taking must always be an
important part of a sales person’s role. And, at no other time do your notes
come in handy as when a past relationship is called into question. My notes
tend to follow a pretty standard pattern. Here is a breakdown of what I track:
who are the primary contacts and what are their specific responsibilities; how
do I get along with each person; are there any common (non-work related)
activities or hobbies; have we dined together; how do we get along on a
personal level; have we disagreed and how have disagreements been managed; do
compromises tend to be considered fair by both sides; what happens when we do
not see eye-to-eye; is the client level headed; and, how do we manage next
steps after a disagreement.
It may seem like profiling and it is.
Trust me, your clients have a profile on you too. The key is making sure you give
the business relationship every possible opportunity to succeed. It is only
when the relationship must come to an end when these profile notes come in
handy. And, more specifically, when there is a possibility of doing business
together again. Be careful what you wish for – you may just get it – and end up
back in jail.