There are many factors and tools that go into enhancing Leadership; however leadership ultimately comes down to results… and those results are driven by the satisfaction level of your customers/clients. A frustrating, but connecting truth is… As a leader, no matter how great your organization, your product, your service, or your connection… there will come a time when you’ll have to defend your company’s value to a customer/client and either retain them or lose them!
This can happen due to change, crisis, or evolution… your customer may be experiencing change within their leadership ranks, change in their budget, their organizational priorities, etc. Perhaps it’s a crisis and their company is experiencing financial trouble or massive organizational restructuring; I recently spoke with a company that lost all but one member of their C-Suite in less than a month… or maybe something like a global pandemic hit! Perhaps it’s evolution and the company is doing what Blockbuster Video should have done and your services are no longer viable. Whatever the reason; change; crisis, or evolution… as a leader, it’s your job to defend your organization’s value, retain the client/customer, save the deal, and enhance the reputation of both your company and your leadership! So, how do you do it?
I often share the importance of A Leader’s 1-on-1 Meetings and how to best have them within organizations related to a boss having it with their Direct Reports and Employees. I also strongly suggest employees request it with their bosses. However, in this regard, I’m imploring you to have 1-on-1 Meetings with the clients/customers you do ongoing business with!
If the only time you reach out to your clients/customers is when you want to sell them something, upsell them, or when it’s time to re-up their contract… you deserve to lose their business! Connection matters; it may not always save the deal, however it works to eliminate surprises and keeps you in the know. Remember, the more you know the better you can serve!
The first step is to preface the 1-on-1 Meeting in the beginning of the relationship by stating, “I’m excited to work with you and to be of best impact for you, your organization, and those you serve. With everyone being so busy, I’ve found it best we schedule a few 1-on-1 Meetings months in advance; allowing us to stay in touch, stay on top of concerns, and possibly customize our service to be even better!”. Feel free to make this statement your own, but you get the gist. Now the 1-on-1’s are scheduled (weekly, monthly, every two months, or quarterly… it’s up to you) and there’s a set time to connect, discuss, and improve… and at the very least, have a great conversation and keep you in the know!
Things to discuss during the 1-on-1 Meeting:
- The regular and important “How are you?” chit-chat – remember, connections matter!
- Ask your customer/client, “What would you like to get out of our meeting today?”
- Share what you’d like to get out of the meeting: new product info, asking their current pain points, what they’re working on or excited about as a professional, team, or organization.
- A plan to best move forward – keep things the same or fine-tune?
- The Biggest Takeaway of the meeting for them… and for you!
Perhaps you’ve been doing what I just shared and if so, great! If not, you now have some ideas of what to add. Whether you’ve been doing this process or not… change, crisis, or evolution is always right around the corner. Your customer/client begins to explain the bad news of how they will no longer be able to continue business with you and it’s time for you to share your company’s value proposition!
That means, as a leader, you must know what your company or product offers, how it can help them through their problem, why it’s a bad idea to lose it, how they can best lead at the current price… or with a lesser package that can get them by. Remember, flexibility will beat bullying and flexibility doesn’t have to mean desperation. Whether you can help your customer/client or not; it’s up to you to find a way when a way is available!
I was once in this situation and my client enjoyed my program, however justifying its cost had become difficult given leadership changes occurring a level above. We reviewed his teams’ pain points to ensure the program was still necessary and beneficial, I offered a restructured plan of payment to pay a monthly fee under the amount he had to receive approval for, and split the duration of the pay between the current fiscal year and the next… crisis adverted and win-wins all around!
A Leader’s Empathy!
Sometimes, it will go as smoothly as this… and you can be looked at as even more of an expert in your field that they feel lucky to have on their side. While other times, the train has left the station… and along with it, your business and what you thought was guaranteed revenue.
Whether you’re working to save a deal or it’s slipping through your fingers, it’s imperative to be human and work to decrease your frustration and increase your empathy! The person on the other end of that call is a human being going through as much, if not more, turmoil and change as you… perhaps they may be trying to hold on to their job and feed their family for one more day, maybe they despise the professional changes and crisis their company has placed them in and you’re the first of twenty more calls they have to make today… or you are their twentieth! I could go on, but you get the point!
As a leader, be sure to make the person you’re speaking with as important as the deal you’re attempting to save… you’ll be surprised by the connections and impact you’ll make in the long run!
Some questions to ask to enhance A Leader’s Empathy:
- It sounds like you and your team are dealing with a lot; what is it like for you?
- With all of this going on, how are your people holding up?
- With all of this going on, I hope your weekends are great. Do you have any upcoming plans to relax and take care of yourself?
These are just a few. The point is to enhance your empathy and connection and allow an opportunity to get human-to-human. During this time, they may even share the bigger picture of the problem and potentially how your service can be of value for now or for later. A Leader’s Empathy also allows us to focus on Work/Life Harmony. As your client/customer’s organization is crumbling or rebuilding; their lives may be crumbling with it, professionally and personally, as they’re so busy being busy they forget to engage in the rebuilding process of their own lives; properly leaning on and enjoying their weekends, families, friends, and themselves… Be Mindful!
Hopefully, with the 1-on-1 Meetings, The Value Prop, and A Leader’s Empathy you’ve defended your product and services enough and the deal has been saved!!! However, you know like I know, this isn’t always the case and sometimes you lose the pretty girl or handsome guy. When this is the case, a great leader focused on Ending On a Good Note!
This means you are sorry to end services, but empathic and understanding of their position, wish them well, possibly refer them to someone you know has better medicine for their problem, and asking if they’d be OK with you reaching out from time to time to stay connected!
I’m BIG on LinkedIn; it’s an honor to share my content, connect with leaders worldwide, and do business with so many great companies! Some people on LinkedIn never say hello, some Follow, while others reach out, we chat, and create an impact within their team and organization. However, one thing professionals on LinkedIn have in common is TIME. In TIME… they get promoted or switch companies; or both! The people who didn’t have the power to say “Yes” before all of a sudden do. Perhaps they wanted to say “Yes” but the company they worked for was in change, crisis, evolution, or was satisfied in a negative culture… and now they’re with a new company that would value your services! Therefore, ALWAYS leave on a good note, professionally and personally, as you never know when you’ll bump into your customer/client again… and what position or power they’ll hold!
“Connection matters; it may not always save a deal, however it works to eliminate surprises and keeps you in the know. Remember, the more you know the better you can serve … Be Mindful!” – Andre Young
Written by: Andre Young
Click www.youevolvingnow.com to connect, chat, and to find out more about Andre Young’s Leadership & Work/Life Harmony Trainings, Speaking Engagements, Books, and more; evolving your organization, your leaders, employees, and teams!