The longer you do business with a whale, the harder it will become to ensure that you have a mutually trustworthy relationship. People on your team and the whale’s team will come and go, job responsibilities will change, new sales will require everyone’s time and new customers will be in the intake process. It is very easy for both teams to become complacent about the other and discontinue some of the early practices that were designed to build trust.
Yet small business absolutely runs on trust. It is the key differentiator between your company and your large competitors. But that will only be apparent to the whales if you actively work on the trust relationship all of the time.
Here are some suggestions:
(1) Get with your team on a regular basis to audit the trust relationships. Assess whether you are gaining or losing trust over time.
(2) Look for the weakest links in your chain. Whatever department or service creates the most hassle for the whale is the one that will determine the whale’s overall sense of your trustworthiness.
(3) Discuss whether there are any inadvertent “trust busters” in your company–throw-away lines to the whale that pit one area of your company against another. These are communications like “Well, customer service is always trying to cover themselves” or “I hear that training is really backed up” or “If they don’t take care of you, just call me.” Often these are well-meaning phrases but they lead to a reduction in trust.
(4) Remind your team that “the village survives because we hunt.” Whale-sized customers are difficult. They have high expectations. They do thinks differently than you may be accustomed to and they challenge your team’s good will and your resources. Nevertheless, it’s better if everyone develops an attitude that the whale is what feeds the village.
In The Whale Hunters model, business development does not end with the sale. You will not be successful at growing your company unless your service delivery matches–and especially exceeds–the promised you made during the sales cycle.
How is your company doing on trust with your key accounts?