Remember the eighties? Long lunches, tables full of men doing business, patting each other on the back, telling stories, introducing each other to potential business associates, all while drinking a few bottles of wine.
Now, in truth, I was still at school, but the early nineties were not too dissimilar. Working at Channel 7, I remember the management and sales teams having long lunches day-in, day-out and walking into the office at 6pm to get their house keys or jacket that they forgot, a little under the weather but with a deal in hand.
The long lunch is not sustainable – we all know that. It’s unhealthy, unproductive and a bit extravagant for this day and age where there is more accountability, cost-cutting and sexual harassment is a no-no.
But what is our substitute? A meeting room with white walls, oak tables and a bottle of sparkling mineral water?
Clients are people. They need the same things as you and I. In business, they need;
a) A good deal
b) A reliable transaction
On a more personal level, they need;
a) To like you
b) To have an affinity with you and your brand
c) To have some sort of empathy with you
d) To get to know you so you become more than just a transaction
e) A smile and a bit of enthusiasm – every now and then
They don’t need;
a) To know your problems
b) To know how many times you go on dates or that your wife is having an affair
c) That you are having an affair
d) That your mortgage is too high
e) That your business is going down the tubes
There is a fine line between saying too much and not saying enough. Working out how you can work with clients that you like and that are on the same page is the perfect scenario, but not always realistic.
As a business, if you can afford the luxury of working with companies that understand the value of a relationship and the importance of working together to achieve the same goal - you are 80% there.
This week, put a plan together to get to know your customers better. Open up the lines of communication and take time out just to have a coffee with them. You never know what might happen!