There’s an assumption that inviting the most senior people in your organisation to meet with your important customers is a guaranteed way of improving the relationship or adding sales. It can be, but then again, it can also be a mistake.
I know of plenty of instances where this type of approach has backfired – in particular, I heard of a scenario where two C-level executives were asked to attend an annual review meeting with a major customer. They duly attended, but paid no attention to the explicit needs of the customer and simply tried to sell more product in. At the meeting itself the customer made it clear that, as a result of this lack of empathy, they had lost faith in the supplier.
Unless your executives take the time to understand the situation and work with it, where’s the benefit?
Through our work at Gilroy on executive engagement programmes, we find that peer to peer relationships at every level are more effective. This ensures that matching personalities, skill sets, experience and approaches is favoured, rather than just aligning seniority of roles. The more relationships you have across an organisation, the harder it is for the connection to be broken.
There’s no reason why the HR people in your company shouldn’t build relationships with the HR people in your customer’s organisation for example. Or marketing to marketing, facilities to facilities, accounts to accounts. It’s just not a normal approach, but then who wants to be normal?
The real value in taking a wider approach to building relationships is in the relationship capital that can be revealed. Take personal or previous connections for example – when working with one of our customers on a high value networking programme, we identified that a relatively junior person in an unconnected division to the one we were working with, had worked directly with one of our key target contacts. We asked that he reconnect, briefed him on the opportunity, and he duly set off to meet and discuss it with his ex-colleague.
His personal intervention led to a series of meetings with stakeholders we had previously been unable to access, which in turn contributed to our customer winning a new contract.
As we say, people buy from other people – in particular those that they trust, and trust isn’t always formed on a match to seniority level alone; to be successful you need to look at all commonalities.
If you would like to know more about Gilroy’s approach to Executive Engagement and High Value Networking programmes, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website for more information: http://www.gilroy.co.uk/whatwedo/