Are You Using CIP to Grow Your Business? Why Not?

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At Singapore Changi Airport for a fee available to all is the “Commercially Important Person,” or CIP experience.

At its highest "Jetside" level, as they exit their planes traveling CIPs have a uniformed agent greet and whisk them to the tarmac to a waiting Mercedes that chauffeurs them to a special terminal where customs is cleared quickly, luggage routed, and for travelers with connecting flights amenities of the elegant CIP lounge include complimentary food and drink, free wifi, private showers, and more.

While not materially different from high-end VIP experiences the world over, I find the phrase “Commercially Important Person” wonderfully evocative of the super pro-business culture for which Singapore is rightly famous, and a great one for entrepreneurs and executives to adopt as they think about those most important relationships that can and do propel their business forward.

CIP is value-neutral - it just recognizes that
of course some clients, partners, and employees are far more important than others for a company's bottom line and should be treated as such.

For client and partner CIPs better and more personalized service and attention.

For employee CIPs more money, perks and recognition.

All of this should be obvious. But in our technology and social media overwhelmed world, it can be dangerously easy to treat as of having the same value the various likes, followers, and online friends and connections that can be globbed onto oh so easily and seductively!

And then what happens is that start to treat quantity of contacts and breadth of exposure as sufficient measurements of marketing, sales, and client relationship management effort and success.

CIP is a shorthand to break out of this trap. We just ask:

How much value - in quantifiable dollars today in the near future - will this relationship bring to me and my organization?

Yes, this is an unfeeling question.

And a difficult one to answer, as most business relationships are somewhat indeterminate as to when and how they might be monetized, or might not lead to direct compense themselves but are enablers for other relationships that do, or are relationships that provide us the comfort and inspiration we need to build and do great things.

Yes, all of this is true and right and real, but...

...really grappling with what a business relationships’ true and quantifiable value actually is can save
a lot of wasted and frenetic effort.

My experience with this exercise is that the vast majority of businesspeople find that the truly Commercially Important People in their business lives are:

  • Actually far fewer than first surmised (or would be signaled by online connections / contacts)
  • That for most (but certainly not all!) types of business, it is far more profitable to have fewer, higher paying clients than a lot of lower paying ones
  • That for these “chosen few” clients, social media - LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter et al - are terrible tools through which to cultivate with them deep and monetizable relationships
  • That email, no matter how personalized, is only slightly better

And so yes, in spite of all of our technological progress, in spite of the almost cultural “faux pas” it has become to not put technology at the center of all of one’s business efforts, that the best business is still done pretty much as it has always been - over-the-phone and in person.

Now, a really neat byproduct of this realization is that as we winnow down and focus our efforts on those few and truly relationships, that a lot of the noise of our business lives naturally goes away.

What is freed up is more business time to invest in those things that actually make us have more value to our clients in the first place.

Like investing in professional skills development.

And in preserving and cultivating our energy so as to be able to deliver those skills to clients that can both benefit from them and pay us for them.

And as we keep doing this over and over again, to and for the right and few commercially important people in our business lives, we might just start to find....

...that the most commercially important person in your business life will become exactly who it should be.

You.

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