Would you court your spouse the way you pursue prospects?
How does your firm/you differentiate from competitors? Before you answer - ask yourself “Do my competitors claim anything different?” Now ask yourself what service/product do I provide? If you answer is technical, tactical and/or transactional, how does that deepen your relationship if the client seldom has the capacity to differentiate?
Do terms like “steward”, “servant-leader”, "connector" and/or “concierge” come to mind when clients/prospects seek a solution that does not center on what you’re offering? I’d love to say I had an epiphany. Truth be told my discovery was fear based. Looking at that cold, hard truth in the mirror, I asked, “What is my relevance?” It couldn’t just be earning more. It had to be something greater.
As a business valuation professional, I learned identifying and measuring risk (core to determining value) was insufficient to differentiate. So, I also offer risk management and mitigation services. More importantly, I connect others also playing in their A-game even when no immediate benefit will be derived. So, my mojo isn’t solely what I know (30 years in), but who I know - local or national.
Clearly, relationships are not simply ones you have with clients. Could you imagine going to a bar looking for your future spouse and handing out your resume as justification that you’re Mr/Ms Right? This might be sufficient for a one night stand, but most people like to be courted. Not just superficially to make the sale. So, why would conducting business differ?
I have a simple test. How do you treat the assistant or receptionist when you call or visit? One can tell a great deal about a person by how they interact with support staff.
So, as we discussed under the “G” for “GRRK” standing for Governance, the manner in which your company (its people) conducts itself is telling whether a culture exists that expects more than transactions. So, examine internal relationships. Is communication fluid and collegial?
How staff feels about where they work will influence how they interact with others external to the organization. Would you want your key account staff (sales or customer service) to be transaction or relationship oriented? Does executive management go out of its way to meet with key clients to simply ask what their needs and aspirations are? Is there any distinction between servicing the top 10% of clients and the next 60%?
And a real test. Are suppliers, vendors, providers and advisors asked how you could improve your relationship with them? Are they asked what are some of the best practices they see when they visit competitors? They don’t have to reveal names, but what they see your competition do could be incorporated into the way your own firm is run. All these "constituents" (stakeholders) are part of a greater ecosystem. So, are they then included when contemplating strategy or as an after-thought?
Another real test. As an advisor do you seek to meet with all the advisors with which your client and prospect works? As an owner/founder/executive do you hold routine meetings with banking, insurance, wealth, legal and tax advisors at the same time? If you see this as a cost and not an investment, what does this say about the confidence you have in the value they add?
So, the message her is simple, but its execution is not. The “R” in “GRRK” is about Relationships. If they’re an after-thought that is transaction-oriented, you have not differentiated. But what if you proactively build quality relationships within and external to the organizations with which you work? If they’re of high caliber (which means you are or striving to be), then they are unique to what you have to offer. That is a differentiation that has real mojo.
The only question that remains is "Do you have the patience and moxie to approach past, existing and future relationships as a way to develop rapport and assist in building value for others even when it may not immediately serve your own purposes?"
Isn’t that why courtship works (it’s not about just me, it’s about you…)?
Yes, I wrote Wiley Finance’s book Equity Value Enhancement (“EVE”) because I want you to buy the book and retain my firm’s services. The book’s emphasis is on leveraging BOTH Human and Financial Capital in order to supersize company and individual value. But, I pursue relationships with quality advisors and clients who are seeking more than just transactions.
I’m confident enough to stake my reputation and money that if there isn’t $850,000 or more in EVE's knowledge nuggets I’ll refund the $85.00 purchase price. That’s a 10,000 to 1 return. Now, that’s value add and a differentiator!