Do you like your best friend because she bakes the most delicious pies or because you enjoy the conversation? Do you enjoy your favorite bar because the beer tastes great or because you know Todd will be sitting in the same seat and you are just looking to talk with someone after a long week? Relationships aren’t built on value, they are built on genuine trust .
Delivering a valuable solution is important, I don’t think anyone disagrees with that, but the word “value” is becoming overused. Customers are becoming numb to it. More than a great solution, people want to find someone they trust and that trust is built on a strong genuine relationship which begins with honest conversations. My wife is my best friend and she is the first one to tell you I am a talker. That is how we work through our problems and plan out projects and decide what to do next. We are not looking for the perfect solution, we just want to make a good decision because as we all know, a plan is just an educated guess. We won’t know if the plan will deliver the best value until years down the road.
So how can you tell your customer you are going to deliver value if that value won’t be realized until years down the road? Instead, what if you told your customer you are going to help her discover, design, and implement the best solution possible at that moment in time and then be with her every step of the way to continuously improve upon the solution, learn from the mistakes, and celebrate the wins. What if instead of saying, “We are going to deliver the most value you have ever seen,” you instead say, “We want to audition to be your best friend.” A best friend is there every step of the way accepting your faults and celebrating your talent. A best friend will stay up until 1:00 am making more coffee and helping you discover that next break through.
Remember, the deal is not closed with revenue and a signed contract, it is signed with a handshake over a glass of beer or whiskey. The solution is never complete, it can always be improved and refined and that takes years. The measurement of value usually starts with the strategy but the strategy is constantly changing which means the definition of value is always changing. What doesn’t change and only grows stronger are the genuine relationships created through honest work and genuine conversations.
Again, customers are not looking to be sold value, they are looking to find someone they can trust and work with to discover the next gorgeous solution or breakthrough idea. Once they find that trust and genuine relationship, you can help them design the next gorgeous solution. So don’t focus on the value, focus on buying the next round of drinks for your new best friend.