A frame of reference. Let’s begin there.
One of the common threads that has run through the independent phase of my business career is that I have generally had the good fortune to work with people that a) Had good business ideas and b) Went about their business with a genuine sense of humanity.
This was not always the case in the ad agency phase of my career. But this had less to do with the people than the fact that you were assigned accounts and more or less had to deal with whoever was your client in that situation.
It was never really any sort of nightmare, although there were some extremely demanding individuals. But I was always able to treat them like ‘character builders’ and muddle through, knowing that the alternative (because nobody wimped out and complained), was to quit and move on.
But the lessons were learned and when I started my own business, I used those lessons to help me make decisions about the kinds of situations I wanted to get involved with.
This, of course, is where the 80/20 Differential came into play. But my experience was that the 20, in this case, were the people I didn’t really care to work with, mainly because a) They did not know enough about how communication really worked to really appreciate the benefits; b) they were too cheap to get the value proposition and c) they thought could do it all themselves and I was just there to make it all sound and look pretty.
What Made It Possible To Get Through All That
My friend and associate, Robert Wright, who is a brilliant sales strategist and with whom I created a persona based learning system for high-end sales people, had a fundamental principle that was at the core of everything he did. And it’s something that I have believed since the beginning of my career.
“People prefer to do business with people they like and trust.”
I love this collection of words for several reasons:
1. It’s simple. And it provides both clients and suppliers with a frame of reference and an important guidepost or soft standard to counterbalance the harder elements of experience and specific expertise.
2. It incorporates personal attributes, chemistry, and personality into the process. (The Like Factor).
3. It levels the playing field because it’s not just about the client’s preferences but about the supplier’s willingness, to be honest with the client at all times. (The Trust Factor).
A lot of business gurus will tell you the decision to hire someone is more about shared vision than it is about depth of experience. The “Like & Trust” axiom plays directly into that.
But more importantly from the perspective of the supplier, the reflexive nature of this ‘truism’, can also be useful in terms of evaluating the potential for good working relations with any prospects you meet with.
Horses For Courses
What this means in a 360-degree sense is that in order for you, as a service provider, to give yourself the best chance of success with a client, it’s important to recognize the value of chemistry in all of your business relationships.
Because without it, you will be essentially fighting an uphill battle, and, quite likely, spending more time than you need to dealing with conflicts of opinion that derive directly from lack of ‘Trust’. Or stubbornness that is attributable to the lack of “Liking”.
Like & Trust Are Two Of Our Principal Goals
When Charlene and I decided to create Bullet Proof, the given was that we knew what we were capable of bringing to the party.
The question was, and probably will always be: Is this the right party for us to be attending?
So we set up some criteria to help us evaluate leads, and over time shape both our business offering and the character of our brand.
Size: We want to be working with companies that are large enough to have someone, either the owner or someone on the management team, who has a frame of reference for the value that we would bring to the organizational and communication processes of their company.
Integrity: We are looking for companies who are intent on having a positive impact, either through their philosophy and mission or the nature of their products or services.
Humanity: We want to be able to connect with our clients on all levels because know that the key to moving any business forward is everybody singing from the same songbook. And we also know that for ‘Like and Trust’ to actually help shape decisions, those elements have to be mutual.
Some people could argue that, in today’s imperfect world, we’re kind of shooting for the moon.
We are acutely aware of the fact that very few things in this world are perfectly aligned.
But as long as we see the potential for alignment over time, and as long as we feel that our clients either get it out of the gate or are demonstrably eager to build a solid relationship, then the rest will figure itself out.
Not everybody will tell you they can afford the luxury of waiting for the ideal client relationship to come along. But by the same token, one has to consider the potential cost of not having at least some standards for evaluating the potential of all relationships.
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