The ability to nurture is essential for any new parent, just as it is for every sales professional. Both parenting and selling require a high level of patience, dedication, and understanding. Certainly, not everyone has these qualities, however if you do, the rewards of both jobs can be unbeatable.
As with having a baby, working with a new client can take you on a long and winding road that may occasionally have some bumps. But as you navigate through the stages listed below, you realize that your consistent efforts can be instrumental in the flourishing of a business relationship that provides you with long-lasting rewards. (Remember retainer business is the goal!)
While you may not be grappling with morning sickness and an expanding waistline, the early stages of working with a client is like the 9 mos of pregnancy. It’s time to be smart, protect what is developing, and get ready for the new gig. Readying your team and aligning your resources for the upcoming new business is also on your ‘to do’ list.
Congratulations! After all the pre-planning and diligent work, the client is really yours. Now, what are you going to do? How quickly the glow will end and the reality of keeping your client hits home. Sure, you’re still thrilled, but some of the hallucinatory glee might be beginning to wane.
Middle of the Night Feedings and Wiping Butts
You’re now in the thick of it. Just like a baby, your client needs your help and reassurance, maybe at all hours of the night. They might even seem a little or a lot helpless, but this is the client that you wanted. Right? Hang in there. Brighter days will soon follow.
Growing Up and Being Part of the Family
The labor-intensive diaper changing, or extreme hand-holding days are now behind you, and you finally have a moment to reflect. What do you see? Someone you’ve nurtured and incorporated into your family. Yes, long-term clients really do become members of your extended business family.
Salespeople, like parents, simply can’t sustain the level of attentiveness that is required in the beginning stages of a relationship. That’s understandable. Whether you’re the parent who plops their kid in front a screen to get a few minutes of peace, or the salesperson who needs to focus on another client, it’s simply impossible to stay 100% focused all day, every day.
That's okay, however, while it’s understandable to shift your focus from time to time, you don’t want to risk losing a relationship because of neglect. A client, just like a child, requires a level of care and nurturing, even when they’ve become self-sufficient.
Your responsibility as a parent or a salesperson with a client doesn’t end at this point. Your relationship will inevitably change over time, and your success will be measured by how your relationship has been maintained over the long haul.
PS The photo is me walking to the hospital from my office to have a baby.