Care and Feeding of Global Partners
Even global business demands local relationships. Leverage travel and technology to keep even overseas clients close.
By: Chia-Li Chien | Published 07/04/2010
Global competition, revenue opportunities outside the U.S., advanced technologies: Things are changing at a speed we've not seen before. More than ever, we communicate via various electronic avenues such as e-mail, phone, Skype and Facebook. But it is critical for each of us to maintain client or customer relationships locally or somehow face-to-face.
I've found that building a relationship with your clients and customers or prospective customers is far more important than just selling the benefits of your products. If you do business with Fortune 1000 companies, you know that people change positions all the time. You have to build deep inside relationships consistently with the companies you do business with. Because everything depends on those relationships.
There is a saying in Chinese: "You earn 30 percent of the relationship when you first meet someone face-to-face." And with technology such as Skype and video conferencing, you can still feel close to someone who's physically on the other side of the globe.
Zelphina Pierson runs an extremely successful multi-level marketing business with Vitamark, an international company. She e-mailed me a free e-book from a free mentoring service designed specifically for multi-level marketing. I was shocked that someone would give away a 91-page book--and on top of that, Pierson provides free mentoring. In this way, she demonstrates effectively that there is a reason for her to speak with you and, potentially, meet you face-to-face. I investigated the e-book to see if it offered tips we could apply in other businesses. Here is list of things we can all use, no matter what kind of business we're in:
1. Serve first and always. I first learned this from a century-old life insurance company. It's easier said than done. Pierson helps others by mentoring them to be successful in their business. Pierson referenced Zig Ziglar: "You can have everything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want." Pierson effectively mentors hundreds of people in MLM businesses.
2. People are your business. The e-book mentioned something really critical for entrepreneurs, which is that companies and products come and go, but the relationships you build with people continue if you consistently nurture those relationships. Pierson pointed out that "people" are your business, no matter what you sell.
3. Superior products or services. Of course, you have to have superior products or services if you want people to buy from you continually.
So how do you compete globally and still have local relationships? The formula Pierson shared is:
Solid People Relationships = listen + have a mentor + mentor others
1. Listen. We all like to talk about ourselves from time to time; therefore, listen to your customers and clients. They, too, have family, history and situations they want to share. By listening to them intensively, you'll learn more about them and find out how much you can help them succeed in life.
2. Have a mentor. Don't confuse a mentor with a coach. A coach is someone who can bring the solutions from inside you to reality. A mentor is someone who has been in your shoes and been successful doing what you're doing. A mentor tends to help you reconceptualize your business and a coach tends to help you reconceptualize your personal life.
3. Mentor others. This is one way of paying it forward, and teaching others is the best way to learn. Neither Pierson nor I would be where we are today if someone had not mentored us. Why not mentor others and complete the cycle? Build up a fellow business owner's capability so we all have a great chance to succeed in this global economy.
Local relationships are something you have full control over even if your customers are in the Far East. Consider leveraging technology such as Skype to stay connected with customers or clients. Leveraging technology effectively can only yield dividends for you. Through a Skype video call, I can talk to my clients in China or Australia about their specific situations without spending a lot on travel. In addition, have a plan to visit customers or clients face-to-face on an annual basis. Technology aside, doing business face-to face is still the most effective method. One of my client flies out quarterly to meet with her vendors and customers in person. She has consistently grown her business 8 percent a year despite the economy. One of my clients in China comes to see his U.S. customer once a year in person and consistently receives $500,000 in orders per month.
Of course, just meeting someone won't build the relationship you need. But if you do that and take advantage of Pierson's advice, you can have solid local relationships amid global competition.
Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; helps women entrepreneurs to convert their business into meaningful personal wealth. She is the author of Show Me The Money and columnist for WomenEntrepreneur.com & Fox Business online. She is available for consulting, speaking engagements and workshops. She can be reached at www.chialichien.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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