How Often Can You Sell to Someone
Over a period you become familiar with a customer and develop a productive relationship where both sides benefit. The conversations become more casual but also they are quicker and the work related part becomes more of an incidental to the general chit-chat. In many cases you believe that you are becoming friends with this person. In certain cases it is perfectly possible to have a friendship with a customer. Although if you think of your best friends, you wouldn’t keep on trying to sell to them would you?
So Account Management is a different skill, balancing the friendship with the business. I once had a customer who I sold advertising too. I took him for lunch regularly to nice restaurants (back in the days when you could!) and we talked about the areas of life we had in common. As the recipient of his business I must confess I sometimes feigned interest in his yachting mishaps and his new cars, but actually aside from that he was a nice bloke. I ran into him years later by chance, at a pub in Dorset overlooking Studland bay. I’d had a few, didn’t immediately recognise him or remember his name because it was so out of context, and was perhaps a little too pleased to see him. We then chatted and joked about old times, and went our separate ways, probably never to meet again. Afterwards I reflected that once again, Woody Allen put it so well when he wrote ‘In business, friendly, but not familiar.’ That’s spot on.
To take that further, in business you will have many, many customers, some over many years, and you can’t be best friends with all of them, no matter how much you might want that. You must resist the temptation to greet too enthusiastically, to kiss women who would rather shake hands, or to man-hug a gentleman while he tries to place your face. True friendship surely develops beyond the business relationship?