It’s that time of the year when many people feel added pressure due to the holidays. Whether the additional stress is compounded by health issues, meeting or achieving personal and/or professional year-end expectations, or getting ready for upcoming visitors or travels, it’s a good time to remind ourselves that someone else likely has it worse than we do. Be patient. That person who just irritated you is likely going through something. Breathe. And keep breathing through the situation. It likely will result in you feeling better about yourself because you didn’t react. This amazing gift that you are giving to others and yourself can be carried forward ALL YEAR.
Why is this important to you? Besides the fact that it’s just the right thing to do, it means better relationships, and these relationships matter to your business. These relationships may be the difference between you having your product on the store shelf, or not. Buyers are super busy (one of my buyers once told me she received 400 emails daily), but they are people with feelings, too. So, show that you CARE so the buyer WANTS to read your email, answer your phone call, meet with you in person, and/or give greater attention to your product than he/she would otherwise if they didn’t know you cared.
5 Ways to Show you Care
- In your daily/weekly/monthly communications with your buyers, show your human side. You can certainly start off each email/phone call with a kind salutation and/or personal note. It takes just a few seconds longer and it’s far more engaging Examples: Happy Friday! Do you have something fun planned for the weekend? I am taking my 12 year old son to see XYZ game; how is your daughter doing post knee surgery? Did you have a nice visit with your grandchildren? Show that you CARE. You will be amazed at how a relationship can develop if you SHARE just a tad about yourself and ASK questions. Keep it succinct (as I mentioned above, they do receive 400 emails daily, after all!), but show your human side.
Personal Example: I am teaching my 12-year son who is navigating the pre-teen years that it’s important to ask questions of others. It shows his friends that he cares about them and that the result will be deeper relationships. My last conversation was just last night when I asked him whether his “girlfriend” had a Xmas tree. He said he didn’t know. I said that it was nice that he was sharing a picture of our tree with her, but that it would be nice to find out from her if she had a tree or would be getting a tree, and what their family tradition may be around getting a tree, and that he could share some of those details with her about what we do as a family. I am trying to teach him to get beyond just surface details.
- Honor their schedule. When you ask for a phone call or meeting, suggest a timeframe – and stick to it. Example: “Can we talk next week for just 15 minutes? What day/time will work for you?” And, whatever you do, stick to the timeframe that has been suggested or allocated. At the designated cut off time, you can state, I realize we are at our cut off time, shall we stop and I will follow up with you via email? You are showing the buyer that you are mindful of their busy schedule. If they want another 10 minutes of your time, awesome. But let them make that choice.
- Say your “pleases” and “thank you’s”. Who doesn’t want to hear those words?! When you ask and receive, do you say those simple words? Personal example: I just had to make a request of one of my distributors which would result in her having to do work for me that she likely didn’t want to do. My request to her thanked her in advance for her willingness to help. I received a reply within a few minutes. The result: I received forward and timely action. I am not her top priority, or even close to it! But, my request was probably stated a whole lot nicer than others may have asked. Do you want to do things for those who ask nicely or those who don’t? Yup.
- Send a simple gift or hand-written note card to your buyer (or his/her assistant!) expressing your gratitude. This can be done during the holidays, but it can also be done in March and/or August. Note: some larger retailers have strict gift policies. The buyer may not be allowed to accept any gift, or a gift valued at more than $25, as an example. You should have received an email from the corporation advising as to their gift policy.
- Pick your battles. Be effective, not necessarily right. We all want to be effective and right, but there are times when we can not have both. So, the question becomes, which is more important to you? That may mean compromises on your part and/or letting go of your ego. I am not talking about compromising on your values. You can and should always honor those, but there are many things that you can let go of that are simply not to your benefit to argue. LISTEN to your buyer. Hear what he/she is telling you and then work through the issue without placing blame. You and your buyer ultimately want your product to be successful on his/her shelf.