Last week, I wrote about the “Commercially Important People, the "CIPs," in all of our business lives, and of the importance of being very clear as to who they are (and are not!), and to then connect and communicate with them in a manner and with messaging apropo of their so special and valuable status.
A fundamental premise of the post was that the distractions and "leveling effect" of modern technology and social media make it dangerously easy to treat our contacts and professional network too much the same, and thereby not prioritize our CIPs to the exalted status they deserve.
So the first point was to just not do this - to recognize that for the vast majority of business types and executive roles electronic communication - email, text, social media, etc. - is fundamentally limited as to maintaining and growing the very high value relationships that can and do propel businesses forward.
Instead, we must and should nurture our CIPs as has been done since business time immemorial - in-person and over the phone.
Yes, with just the simple habit change of more meetings and phone conversations and less “electronic stuff” our best business relationships returns will go up significantly.
The key caveat is that the quality of our CIP interactions can and do swing wildly.
From interactions that are filled with positive energy, mutual value add, and win-win next step projects and action items...
...to ones that are “salesy,” leave both parties feeling empty, and for our CIPs with the sense that that the next time our call comes in voicemail (and an unreturned one at that!) is its most likely destination,
How do we avoid this depressing fate? And especially so with our most Commercially Important People, the ones that make multi-million dollar financial differences to our businesses?
Well, it comes down to a few bedrock principles on which every business rises or falls.
And again, in our technology-enabled, shallow communication-defaulted modern business world principals that we can too easily be distracted from and overlook.
The most basic of these is value.
Yes, before we pick up the phone, before our CIP steps into our office or we into theirs, before we go to that conference, lunch, dinner, golf outing, Burning Man, etc...
....we need to look deeply within our businesses and our ourselves and ask what real value we can and do bring to those that make the biggest difference in our business lives.
As in how much, in quantifiable dollars today and in the near future can we contribute to our CIP’s bottom lines?
Or, more softly how can and will our CIPs feel better about themselves and their life prospects by speaking to and working with us?
Unfortunately, for too many businesses and executives what will be found as they ask these questions are big gaps as to “CIP value adds.”
Our products and services are found to be dated, or overpriced, or incomplete in some critical way.
Or as damningly, we find our organization lacks the "evangelical" belief in those products and services that would inspire our CIPs to buy, use, and enjoy them.
As we identify these “value holes,” the only right response is to roll up our sleeves and work like heck to fill them.
To improve and modernize our product and service offerings.
To reduce their price. Or to add such great features and benefits to them that it is easy to increase it.
And to improve ourselves.
To re-dedicate ourselves to our craft and rediscover the enthusiasm and passion we had for it when we first started.
As we do this, as we increase our fundamental business value and our ability to passionately embody and share it...
....we might just not find that not only do our calls with our most Commercially Important People go easily and swimmingly well...
...but we don't even have to pick up the phone to make them, as our CIPs are standing in a long and patient line just waiting and hoping for the opportunity to talk to us!