This article was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse.
As sales leaders/reps we build relationships with each of our customers but there are certain ones that I’d label ‘a true partner’. You know the kind…
- You have an executive sponsor that works with you to understand the vision of their business, what is important to their success and the objectives that allow them to realize that vision.
- You co-create an action plan to ensure the investment in your service/technology makes a impact their objectives.
- And most of the time these sales cycle is involved, intense, sometimes long but also fun!
We recently brought on one of these ‘true partners’. As we were approaching the finish line we went back up to Seattle for a face to face meeting. (No matter how good of a relationship you have built over the phone there is something special about meeting people face to face.) We sat in our executive sponsors office and started to discuss the implementation and the ongoing success plan. Before we got too deep into the details I asked one of my favorite questions and got a seemingly obvious but profound response:
Question: “What does a great partner relationship look like to you?”
Answer: “What I’ll say is, I won’t judge you if something goes wrong but I will judge you on how you handle it.”
Wow. I love that response because (1) it’s realistic – things will not always go right and (2) you absolutely should judge me/us by how we handle those situations because that is within our control.
When you hit a bump in the road during a sales process, an implementation, ongoing support, focus on what you can control:
- Integrity: This comes first. No exceptions. Be honest – always. No matter how tough a situation is (in a professional setting or just in life), when it’s over what stays with you is your integrity. And integrity is the foundation of your reputation.
- Attitude: You can think of tough situations as a major challenge or as a huge opportunity. I choose the second but that is for another post.
- Communication: When things don’t go as expected, often times people just want to hear from you, even if you don’t have an answer for them. Reach out. Give it to them straight. Set expectations around how you will communicate whether it’s providing updates or a plan forward. The key is to live up to the expectations you set.
I am constantly looking for these little lessons in both work and in life. Huge thank you to this partner for having the conversation that will stick with me for the long haul! My hope is that this post makes a similar impact with someone out there.