For me, time is a precious resource and I know I am not alone. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not take the time to connect with suppliers and customers. This week, in the midst of a grueling work schedule, I decided to show up at a trade show in Chicago (a three-hour drive from my office) where our customers were exhibiting. Prior to this show we created a variety of videos for them to use on their booths. In addition, we were going to send crews on site to videotape future communications. It would have convenient to finish the work, send off the videos and let my employees do the rest. It would also have been a mistake.
Upon arrival, I worked with my crew on a few projects. Then set out to visit our customer’s booths. I did not stay long but said a quick hello, met some new people and checked out our work to be sure everything was working well. The reaction I got was amazing. They were impressed I made the extra effort to be sure that that they were satisfied instead of just delivering product and assuming that everything was fine. It reminded me that even in this techy world where we are all so connected- we are often disconnected and do not follow-up.
That’s why you need to pay very close attention to the opportunities or you might show up when you don’t need to be there, or miss a chance to make an important connection. In this case, the event was critical to my customers. It was a great opportunity to show that I care about their business and check out how our video work stacks up against the competition. But, there are opportunities every day that might signal it’s time to show up.
Here are a few things to consider. Does your customer have an immediate need? A new product, a new service? Did they just restructure, merge with another company? Are they moving into a new area and need the kind of expertise or products you provide? Is your customer facing a crisis or challenge?
When big changes are happening at with my customers, I try to press for a face-to-face meeting, even if it is a brief one. I have driven hundreds of miles and across town. I have flown to both coasts for a short meet and greet. When you do show up, you have the chance to deepen the relationship and gain incremental business.
I was working out on the east coast for a food company. I took the time to walk down the hall and visit a former client who had changed jobs and was now working for the parent company. All I intended to do was say a quick hello. That changed. I walked into the middle of a crisis she was having with a project. I spent the rest of the afternoon working with her and picked up a new project and a new client. Was it just luck that I was in the right place at the right time? Perhaps, but if I had not made the effort to connect I would not have the new client.
Think about this the next time you hesitate to show up. What might you be missing? A greater connection to your customer… a new opportunity?