Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Building Great Relationships - Be of Service

I find it interesting, when I reflect back on some of the things that I have done in my life, that where I have created the “best” results are the same times that I have come from a place of “being of service”. Conversely, where I have not got the result that I said I wanted, was generally where I had an ulterior motive or so called “hidden agenda” that of course, was not hidden at all!

It therefore occurs to me that, in all areas of life, if we start with a genuine desire to be of service to others we will fulfil our grander purpose and live a truly happy and contented life. This is true whether we are in business, working in the corporate world, spending our time looking after “domestic matters”, using our time for charitable purposes, in church or our community or simply within our relationships.

I think back to when I spent my time trying to grow the business I was responsible for in the corporate world. All of the great results we achieved were delivered when we were focussed on improving customer service, therefore being of service to the “end user”, or creating the next team incentive scheme or competition, therefore being of service to the staff, or facilitating a great management meeting, therefore being of service to the managers, or developing the next big promotional activity, therefore being of service to the Company or the suppliers, and so on and so forth.

Yet, when there is a “hidden agenda”, we become manipulative and deceitful. We have a plan and we don’t want to show it. These are the times when things inevitably go wrong, when things show up for what they truly are and when people end up mistrusting us. Once lack of trust has been created, it is difficult, if indeed ever possible, to rebuild and repair that trust.

Stephen Covey said “seek first to understand, then be understood”, and Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen coined the phrase “ask, ask, ask”, which I interpret in this context as meaning, “seek first to be of service, then ask honestly for what you want”.

If we explore this in the context of relationships, my experience has always been that when I have asked first “what do you need from me” or “what do you want”, with a genuine desire of wanting to know the answer, and then do what I can to provide what is needed, I have felt fulfilled and more often that not, have received what I want or need at the same time. This is also true in sales or purchasing negotiations. If I have come from a place of “how can I help you”, the prospect has been more likely to buy into what I am selling and the supplier provided the support for the initiative I have proposed.

When we are marketing our business, it is said that we should “get in the customers shoes” and see how they would feel, what they want. We should understand our target market, know how they think, when they will buy and fulfil their wants and needs. If we did not approach marketing in this way, we would not be providing what the customer wants and therefore would not be making any sales. We would not be saying “what do you need” and we would not be asking for the close in the sale. We would therefore not make any profit.

Sales and marketing strategies are no different to relationship strategies. In fact, of course, they are just relationship strategies anyway, hence the term “Customer Relationship Marketing” or CRM. So, if we want to be sure to build great relationships in anything that we do, we would be wise to start from a place of “how can I be of service”, in this relationship. Once we have asked the question of ourselves, we would be equally wise to simply ask the question of our partner, child, parent, friend, business acquaintance or team colleague. If we don’t ask, we will assume, and as a very good friend once told me, if we assume we make and ASS of U and ME!

So, my invitation is simply this; in any relationship you have currently or have in the future, start from a position of “how can I be of service” and then ask it!

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