Thursday, August 3, 2017
Sitting Across A Table
How do you determine with whom you will conduct business?
If you’ve spent any time at all in business-to-business sales, especially if you’ve spent any time as a small business owner, you quickly learn that there are some people out there that you want to do business with, and there are some people out there that you DON’T want to do business with.
The key to discovering which is which is developing a standard operating procedure that you adhere to every time when determining whom you are going to do business with and whose business on which you are going to pass.
You want your screening process to be something you can easily follow every time. You want a process that relies on instinct, is still objective enough to make sure you don’t miss out on a great opportunity, but at the same time, ensures you are not beating your head against the wall in a losing, unprofitable situation. You also want your process to be one that you can apply at any stage in a business relationship.
While all of these requirements may make it seem like there is no simple way to create a process that will work, I have discovered an extremely easy process that works every single time. And all it involves is asking myself a single question.
Am I comfortable sitting across a table from this person?
That’s it. No great formula or massive amount of research. In all the years that I conducted business-to-business sales as a small business owner, this simple process was accurate every single time. Now, as a fallible being, I didn’t always listen to the process, but the process still remains completely accurate every single time.
What I learned over the years was that if I asked myself that question about the person I was about to conduct business with and the answer was yes, I’d proceed with the relationship and the business at hand, and it would always turn out well. Don’t get me wrong, there were bumps in the road at times and sometimes the relationships took a little work, but as long as I still felt comfortable sitting across a table from that person, we continued to do business.
But, when the answer to that question was no, no matter how sweet the deal, no matter how much profit there was to be had, every single time I felt the answer should be no, it turned out to be someone that I didn’t, or shouldn’t have done business with. Again, I didn’t always listen to my own answer, but very quickly realized I should have.
And I didn’t just ask myself this question at the beginning of the relationship. I made sure to ask myself this question throughout the relationship at key points and milestones. When the answer to the question was yes at each of these later points in the relationship, I would keep doing what I was doing and the relationship would remain positive, and most importantly, profitable.
But, when I asked this question at later points in the relationship and the answer was no, I had to ask myself a second question and make an important decision. When the answer was no, I then asked myself if the answer was, for whatever reason, ever going to be yes again.
If I felt that I could change that no into a yes, I then would set out to do everything I knew I needed to do – everything I possibly could to change that no to a yes. Sometimes the customer would be responsive and we would move forward, other times, I’d notice the answer was not changing.
Once I realized that the answer to my question was never going to be yes again, I’d reach out to the customer and let them know that it was time for us to find a mutually beneficial settlement as to what they had paid, the work that had been delivered, and that it was time for us to part ways.
By following this simple process, which stemmed from me asking the question of whether or not I was comfortable sitting across a table from someone, I always find myself in a position where when I do actually sit across a table from that person, our relationship is square and mutually beneficial.
Photo by HO JJ via Pexels