Yeah, I know… we all live in a web-of-all-things, socially-connected, technology-driven world. There’s no getting around it. But even with all those bits and bytes whirling around in the cloud, regardless of what we do for a living, we are still in the “people business.” And because people are the decision-makers and the key drivers of success, the following saying becomes even more relevant…
All things being equal… people do business with people they like. All things NOT being equal, people STILL do business with people they like.
Think about it… you’re a provider of research services. You have a lot of competitors who provide essentially the same thing. So why do you get the business over them… and keep it? Is your level of service that much better? Maybe – maybe not. Are you able to divine insights so unique that your competitors would never find them? Probably not. Do you have new technology that no one else on the planet has? Doubtful.
So, assuming you have good service (like everyone else)… find solid insights (like everyone else)… and use the latest technology (like everyone else)… you get and keep the business because of the one thing that’s left – your people. Perhaps a sales prospect connected with your sales rep on his first call and it grew from there. Maybe a company reached out to you through a word-of-mouth recommendation and when you responded, a connection was formed. Could be you met at a conference, swapped elevator pitches, and a relationship was sparked.
Regardless, I guarantee one thing… none of the clients currently doing business with you started out the relationship without talking to you. Yes, they wanted to better understand your capabilities. Yes, they wanted to see if you knew what you were talking about. But ultimately, they wanted to get to know you and your staff a bit… as people. To see if you were the kind of people they could do business with. To see if they liked you.
Many pundits have said that with all of the technology and access to information available to buyers, people are becoming less and less an important part of the business equation. In fact, I believe the complete opposite is true! With everything being available to everybody online… people – good, professional, responsive, well-trained, likeable people – will become your competitive advantage… your point of differentiation in the marketplace… the one thing that helps you get and keep the business when all things are not equal.
So, before you bet the farm on all things technological, make sure that that technology is led by, managed by and supported by people – the best you can find. While many will say they “love” the latest technology, you can only build real relationships with people… and that will make all the difference.