This week, I took my annual business trip to Los Angeles. I love visiting the City of Angels, and have been going there each spring for the last decade to attend the United Stores trade show. This time around, I was also visiting a new distributor to close a very big deal for Equator Advanced Appliances.
I showed the distributor our products and the services that come with them, and I could tell they weren’t satisfied. They didn’t like to do business the same way I did, and because of it, wanted me to remove all the support features and programs we offer with our products.
At this point, I had a choice: I could either say “no” right back at them, or say, “Ok, I’m willing to listen. Tell me how you’d like this to go.” I chose the latter, and removed certain features and programs that I think are important but that the distributor just didn’t want.
A lot of people in the business world would see this as a loss for my company, but I see it as the opposite. At the end of the day, I chose to take care of my customer. And it’s a win-win: they got the price and support features they wanted, and we secured a major distributor who will help more customers benefit from our appliances.
When I was growing up, my grandmother would often tell me, “You have to be flexible enough to sway in the wind but strong enough that you don’t rip.” This advice applies to business just as much as it does one’s personal life. In business, sometimes we have to put our egos aside and agree to help the other side. That’s when true service can happen.
The lesson: Never turn down a customer. By saying “no,” you close every door with that person. But by being fluid and giving up a little, you create lots of new opportunities — a stronger customer relationship, and the chance for expanded sales when you release new products down the road.
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