Mind the Gap

The beginnings of a great business relationship rarely begin with an all-encompassing order that is a snap for operations, supply management, and sales to complete according to standard operating procedures.  No, instead it’s usually a small order that requires an inordinate amount of attention and effort.

There’s a certain amount of risk involved with new business, so starting small and slow can be a great way to establish some expectations for the next order and build mutual trust.  This is especially true for those of us who depend on long-term relationships to work through sales cycles lasting longer than a year.

This concept is, or at least should be obvious and top of mind for the sales and management group.  It is just as important that support teams share the same vision.

Let’s take for example the guy who packs the box of widgets headed to a decision maker who after many weeks, months, or years of your prospecting efforts finally agreed to take a look at your product.  That’s great, but now your one and only first impression is in the hands of someone else.  I hope they’re having a good day, and are as excited as you are about the box of widgets!

The investment of time and care taken at each point of contact with customers is easy for those who meet the customers face-to-face to understand.  For everyone else:  mind the gap.

This challenge can be addressed through effective communication.
Here are three easy places to start:

  • Tell the story, again, and again.  Talk about a success story where a small seed of trust planted with a client grew into a financially rewarding relationship.  Tell anyone that will listen.  This is ideally ingrained into the culture of an organization, but anyone could take the lead.  You could start first thing tomorrow morning at the coffee machine.
  • Know who owns the decision. Just the same as sales probably has no business telling the shipping group how to pack a product, sales and applicable management should be given the benefit of the doubt when dedicating resources to customer acquisition.  In short, establish an environment of credibility around your sales force.
  • Give everyone a compass.  The easiest way to convince your passengers that the bus isn’t headed over a cliff, is to let them look out the window.  The teams that affect your customer’s experience from inquiry to payment (Hint: that would be everyone) will serve said customers far better when they are informed about the company’s overall direction.

Want more?

Checkout Jack Altman’s Customer service isn’t a department