Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit with a company with whom I have been working for the past ten years. Over those years, I’ve had a number of various decision makers become my point of contact, and as happens in business, I had to build a relationship with each one of them as I looked to maintain the business with the company.
As time passed, my business with this company started to dissipate. It wasn’t that we were doing anything wrong, but different people have different relationships with other vendors, and slowly some of the business that we had previously established started to go to others.
Which leads me to the meeting that I had yesterday. I had heard that the new executive in place, who had never previously met me, was going to end their business relationship with our company. I had requested a meeting, and was given one reluctantly, and then thought about what it was that I wanted to convey in the meeting.
Most people would plan to defend their business. The tendency would be to explain why our company is better, why we have more experience, better knowledge, better value for the investment, etc.
I chose to take a totally different approach. I simply thanked this new point of contact for the opportunity to do business with her company for the past 10 years. I explained it was an honor to do business with them, and that if she felt she wanted to move her company’s business to someone else, I would do all that I can to help make it a smooth transition. I did explain what we had to offer, but also explained how I respected our competition, and the ultimate decision needed to be hers.
She looked up from her desk to make eye contact, thanked me for understanding, and then proceeded to suggest that we should work together to see how we might be able to maintain the business relationship just a bit longer. She suggested making a change after 10 years did not seem to make sense, unless it was absolutely necessary.
With all of the ways that we are able to connect these days, through social media, websites, emails, portable devices, sometimes the best marketing still happens face-to-face, is based on honesty and trust, and is the epitome of emotional branding.