May 20, 2007

Love's First Kiss

I met with new colleague John Austin of eBrand for a coffee during the week and we got talking about the importance of that first meeting with a prospective client or supplier. We agreed that too often this first encounter sets the stage for an unequal relationship that doesn't do either partner any good in the longterm.

If the client sits back with arms folded and says, 'Impress me!', the chances are that what follows will take the form of a beauty parade and a relationship in which the one finds it difficult to unfold those arms and the other struggles to come down off the catwalk. In the same way, if the supplier sets out to seduce the client into a relationship, that liaison is always likely to have undertones of insincerity and manipulation.

It always seems to me that the 'first date' in any relationship is hugely important and that the savvy buyer and seller should set out to make it a meeting of equals. The smart buyer in particular should look carefully at the overtures being made by the brand seller and ask, 'Is this the type of relationship I'm after?'. A seller who dangles glittering incentives in front of me is always likely to take me for a dupe whilst one who seeks to lure me from another relationship that works is unlikely to have my best interests at heart.

In the same way, the buyer who flits from one brand to the next according to this introductory offer or that giveaway is not likely to stop with me for long.

So whether we are buyers or sellers, we should ensure that we get to behave on our 'first date' as we'd like to go on and that we set the stage well for the relationship that might follow.

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