Morsel #3 – Temperature Check!
In honor of the ever-present seasonal changes, few words can better be spoken than those of Katy Perry, “ 'Cause you're hot then you're cold ”. This lyric has become a favorite “Sales-Warning” in relation to the clients we service and a constant reminder that few things (except a hot chocolate in a Hyrdoflask) retain the same temperature for an extended period of time.
In other words, the “heat of competition” and “positive flame” that burn in personal and professional relationships is ALWAYS moving and ever-changing. First, it’s here, then it’s… wait, where did it – there it is! The proverbial “relational-love-languages” are all over the place and you need to be aware of it.
It’s almost as though a (metaphorical) “circular grill” is being utilized and the heat is moving, fluctuating, changing around you constantly. It’s up to you - the cook, chef, salesman, spouse, parent, leader, therapist, customer service rep – to ensure your “meat” is always sizzling and lined up with that client-fueled, dynamic flame - wherever it may be. It takes tremendous attentiveness, consideration, and skill to be “on top of it”. Leave it unattended for too long and you find the heat has moved on, leaving your tenderized slab cold and unsatisfying. Same with a client relationship.
Early on, I gravitated towards the mindset that if you convinced a client to buy *said services* and “across the threshold” then you sealed the deal, cat’s in the bag, ring on the finger, end of story, touchdown, client for life! All seasoned veterans know exactly how unsuccessful that mentality is and what a rookie mistake it continues to be for all newbies.
What I started to realize is that my “meat” (that I had so gently and tenderly cared for in the early days) had become forgotten and left out in the cold. I began to see how easy it was to do this with friends, significant others, family, and client-partnered relationships. Issues were swept under the rug, feelings would be hurt, drop-off would ensue, and either or both parties involved always got skewered in the end (pardon the shish kebab pun). It was frustrating! I set out to make a change several years ago and I have seen it be met with incredible success both in personal and professional life.
Failure to adapt and put the effort in – and relationships will inevitably lose their heat.
At The Recon GRP, and in effort to ensure that 365 days don’t slip by without “grilling the goods”, we run TEMPERATURE CHECKS (TC’s) with our clients every December. Sure, some TC’s take place with clients more often than once-a-year, but you can be sure they will always happen at the end of Q4. It’s important to do so and it becomes a beneficial end-of-year, beginning-of-year routine practice for us.
The 9 questions we ask clients every year? Drop an email and we will send them over firstname.lastname@example.org
What are some of the immediate and positive benefits to the implementation of TC’s? Most are fairly obvious - taking a pause, sitting down together, and having a goal-oriented discussion focused on being ‘better’ is always smart – but not always done. The feedback and experience you share in this time is priceless and, more than anything, shows a maturity level with vested interest in the client’s well-being. It’s worth it every time and it's worth being done.
A few tips as you conduct a TC with your client-relationships:
LISTEN. The quality of these “feedback sessions” will be determined by the prepared questions and your ability to sit back and be (potentially) a little uncomfortable with the insight you receive. Remember, it’s valuable information! Bite your tongue for a few minutes and perk up the ears.
Take serious interest in potential issues and move towards tangible solution-oriented discussion. It’s one thing to hear what’s being said. It’s another thing to listen and do something about it.
Take this opportunity to give the most sincere, “Thank You” ever uttered from your mouth. Look your client in the eye, firmly shake their hand, and deliver the warmest gratitude you can give for their business. The information they share with you is vital but we could also practice saying, “Thank You” a little more, couldn’t we?
In summation – checking the temperature can be an uncomfortable practice; especially in the first few grassroots-sessions. It may not be the “best time” to do a TC, but I have found the right time is precisely when it doesn’t feel like the best time. Make sure you take a humble, introspective look at yourself/service offerings while considering new ways to ensure you don’t fall short of old and new promises. Then, discuss the ways you can improve and intentionally make efforts to fulfill this void. It works and it strengthens relationships big time. Dividends are paid in the long run and the follow-up client-questions regularly become, “How would you like your meat cooked?”.