What does loyalty mean to you? It’s such a personal, visceral emotion that it must be unique to each of us?
I’m prompted to ask by two calls that I received last week from old customers that I helped many years ago.
One used to have his own business, but is now an employee of a larger organisation. He was chatting to his new boss about the challenges of financing kit, and my old customer told his new boss “ I know a guy who made things really easy, shall I give him a call for you”. I was blown away by this. As a “sales guy” this type of response is what we aspire to build. I remember the deal that we did, and the engagement that we had, like it was yesterday. I had the deal agreed really quickly, and I met him at short notice at a sports stadium near where he was on location that day to sign the docs over a Costa coffee. I remember being really proud of the deal, and it’s reassuring to know that the feeling was reciprocated.
The second call was perhaps even more satisfying. The customer and I had completed two deals years ago, and they’d gone well. It had been a few months since I’d seen the client, and unbeknownst to me, he was buying more kit. The supplier had actively promoted a different finance provider, but the customer told them “it’s OK, I use Duncan for my finance”. Again, just awesome.
It leads on to another deeper question. Who or what are you loyal to, and why? My assertion is that people are usually loyal to people, not organisations.
One of my mentors when I was learning my trade had two simple mantras that he strived to build his business on. He was on to something…
- Be useful to your customers : Be the guy that tells them about new products first. The person that goes the extra mile to do a thing.
- Be easy to deal with : don’t put unnecessary obstacles in the way. Be creative about how to construct a deal, and if he needs a thing at 7pm on a Friday night, be the guy that says yes. If he really needs it at 7pm on a Friday, it’s pretty critical, so be the guy who solved his problem.
A business doesn’t offer these things. A business has a structure, a process, that has been implemented to manage its day to day business, with delivery cut off times and minimum order values for free delivery. It’s the individual in the business that makes the difference and builds a partnership rather than just a customer/supplier relationship.
I believe this is our USP here at Adamantean. One of the true liberating benefits of a new business, is that we have no legacy baggage. We don’t have the “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality, and as we own the business, we have the autonomy and trust in each other to make our own decisions about what is good business.
Sam met a client 150 miles from home late on a Friday afternoon as this was the only time he could see her. I signed a deal up at a Toy Fair as my client was working there, and I also signed a deal up in a car park at Wembley stadium. Perhaps the most rushed sign up I’ve had was a cameraman I met for the first time at St Pancras station. He had a 20 minute window between an incoming train from Leeds and an outgoing train to Paris, at 8pm on a Friday. These times are fun, and can build proper relationships. It demonstrates both of the mantras in spades.
So who/what are you loyal to? And why? When was the last time you showed loyalty, or were showed any? When was the last time someone went above and beyond, to showed that they really cared? And did you tell them that it was valued?
All constructive comments welcome…