Plato once said, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato lived almost 2400 years ago. Before social media, before the phone, before the fax, before e-mail and before the pony express.
In today’s value driven business climate I feel this getting to know the person, not the e-mail address or the @Plato, is where real connections and money are made. Notice! Connection comes first.
Technology has come a long way since Plato uttered these words, but the make-up of humans has not. Trust, respect and likeability are still found to be the top reasons people and companies do business with each other. Building rapport can come in many more ways these days, but I can’t argue with the logic in “you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”
As the economy has shifted more times than a keyboard and budgets slashed more ways than Guns’n’Roses, people still remain at the core of business. Building relationships based on trust doesn’t happen in 140 characters and it doesn’t happen through a month long chain of e-mails. Real connections, real networks, real deals, take real investments in people. By no means am I implying we ignore the enormous value of social media, as it is one of the greatest resources for new business opportunities at our finger tips. The point I am trying to make is taking the online, offline, is where you will maximize the investment in the time you’ve spent networking online.
When Washington began re-shuffling the auto, financial and housing markets like a Vegas deck of cards, client entertainment budgets changed, but client entertainment did not. The value only increased. Markets shifted and with it, market share. Those who take care of people, in turn ensure that business is taken care of.
Since the collapse of the sports ticket bubble about two years ago, entertainment spending has been back on the rise. In the third quarter of 2010, large businesses had increased entertainment spending by 9%. Small businesses ended the quarter on the bench with a 5% increase.
In a published study by SEAT Magazine this past fall, an overall analysis of corporate/business Premium Seating Customers showed that 48% of these organizations have less than 20 employees. The biggest group based on employee size was companies with less than five employees with 26% of the market. Revenue wise, 51% of the premium ticket market generates less than $5 million in sales volume per year. The largest groups of buyers at 28% are those companies with annual sales under $1 million. So throw away the old illusion that it is only the big dogs that are buying.
By taking your client to the ballgame, you’ll learn more about that person, what’s important to them, what’s not and how you’ll even fit into the picture once the final horn sounds. That wealth of the moment can’t be summed up in a status update or memo. Real connections happen in real time with real people. Applying additional effort into the relationship will increase your success on a current project, enhance your opportunity for future business and make work that much more enjoyable. Companies that realize relationship management is constantly part of the job will create memories with their clientele and the clientele will help create business.
Bonding doing something your client or prospective client is passionate about is a great opportunity; it could be a game changer for your career with a small investment of your time. However, be cautious about selling while entertaining as that shouldn’t be the main focus. Continue to establish and reinforce rapport. You can sell later, and it will be easier.
By getting out of the office and over to the arena, you gain access to their real lives, and they into yours. When executed properly you’ll build a level of rapport that evolves far beyond the ‘guy who tries to sell me something I don’t need’.
People often forget that three of the most influential factors in doing business with someone are trust, respect and genuine likeability. By entertaining you can easily lay the ground work for all three. Think about the last sporting event you went to. You might not recall all the sways of the game or even the score. I do bet that you remember how you got your tickets, what you ate, or who invited you to come enjoy the game though. These are memories you can create for your clients.