I thought this piece of writing about building client relationships by Seth Godin was really interesting:
“The goal of a long-term relationship isn’t to find the loophole that lets you do what you want.”
Ambassadors and treaties
A great ambassador doesn’t show up in a foreign land and start complaining about how everything here is so different. She doesn’t insist that people start acting the way they act back home. And most of all, she welcomes the idea that people might have different goals and desires than the people she grew up with–in fact, different than she has.
And every great treaty causes both signatories to change something substantial, something important, in exchange for accomplishing a bigger goal via cooperation.
Your customers need an ambassador. Someone who is open to hearing what they have, need and want, not merely a marketer intent on selling them a particular point of view. Once you understand someone, it’s much easier to bring them something that benefits everyone.
And your partners need you to honor the spirit and intent of the deals you do with them. The goal of a long-term relationship isn’t to find the loophole that lets you do what you want. Instead, figure out what you’re giving up and what you’re getting in return.
Companies (and countries) often under-invest in ambassadors and under-value the promises they make in treaties. In the connection economy, it now makes sense to over-invest instead.