Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Make the Acquaintance First

For some, the idea of “sales” is a little too comfortable, and they push products and services before it’s appropriate. For others, making a pitch is uncomfortable. I would argue both sides are approaching things wrong.

This week, I had lunch with a friend, a prospect and customer relationship in the making, whose son plays Division 1 collegiate football. We discussed what makes great football coaches and decided that the first-in-class guys help others first and genuinely care about their players and their families. Beyond this, they stay connected to high school coaches and therefore see recruits that others learn about too late.

It isn’t all that different from business. First and foremost, you have to look at potential customer relationships for more than their buying power. I try to focus on getting to know these folks without any immediate expectations of a project, developing a relationship before I bring up any services we may offer.

Once we do get around to how we can help each other, I find the best kind of solution starts with being genuine. If the services offered are not a fit for the circumstances, then be honest. Like anything else, relationships have to be nurtured.  Stay connected, remembering that every person you know has a “just right” amount of contact.

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Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.