When is it okay to get personal in business?

By Chuck Sink | April 28, 2020

Now is the Time!

Learn a valuable sales lesson during the pandemic outbreak. Get to know every client or customer on a personal level. It’s amazing what opportunities you may find for new business. And there’s the rub. “New business” is not synonymous with “new customer.” I was taught this by business owners pretty early in my selling career but I’ll admit not learning it very well until I became a business owner.

“Some Web Guy”

A couple of our clients paused services or cut marketing costs at the early stage of the business shutdown. Thankfully, some new projects have rolled in and business has remained steady thanks primarily to current clients expanding their needs. In particular, I got to know one of them for the first time on a personal level, Chief to Chief.

As if by accident, this longtime client, after years of delegating his firm’s marketing to a manager, found out what we really do. In his mind “Chuck Sink Link” was a cost of doing business – just “some web guy” or “someone who hosts our website.” This client (the CEO, not the manager point-of-contact) got on the phone with me after a potential dispute and suddenly the relationship has taken off, and so has new business for both of us!

We finally know each other, and much better!

The client mentioned is a leading netting manufacturer in Connecticut who almost had to furlough many of his employees indefinitely because of a tremendous impact on two of their top markets – Amusements and Construction. He and his engineers turned on a dime to start producing protective masks while netting work is slow. Their employees, already skilled in various stitching techniques, made tens of thousands of critically needed masks.

Through our very first live conversation, the client discovered that we do scalable eCommerce websites, digital advertising and social media marketing. He then treated us like a business partner instead of “the web guy” and we’ve since built an eCommerce website together that generated about $50,000 in mask sales the first two days, resulting in hundreds of donated masks to organizations in need like homeless shelters, hospitals, first responders and nursing homes. The valued employees are at work, earning paychecks and their netting business is again having an upsurge in sales.

The Deeper Conversations

I’ve had deep discussions with several other clients during this apparent “reset” in the economy and our mutual support has been fortified. Together we are keeping busier than ever while being deeply concerned about the companies we know of that need to make difficult decisions. The wisdom and compassion we have shared with each other are among the intangible values I can’t put a price on and wouldn’t do without.

Hopefully, we’ll remember the really important aspects of work relationships as so many of us are forced physically apart for a while longer. It’s a great time for discovering who your suppliers and customers really are and how you can help make each other better at what you both do.

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