By Tom Richardson and Augusto Vidaurreta

Company is a touch activity simply because human touch, connection, and cooperation is the essence of industrial. Even in our transaction-driven, more and more digital global, stable, long-lasting relationships are nonetheless primary to luck. but in so much businesses, relationships with consumers and staff or even extra so with providers, vendors, licensees, licensors, shareholders, creditors, strategic companions, board participants, universities, charities, the media and the neighborhood are the main underutilized resources.

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By then, of course, it was too late. Yes, the marketing manager would know better next time. But what a missed opportunity to provide a win for a board member and his company at no additional cost, and maybe at a savings, and to avoid an embarrassing situation. Would the win have had much impact on Parker’s business? No. That is exactly the point: Small wins count. Most businesspeople can come up with a sensible (if not always successful) relationship management tactic when a huge win is at stake.

Most business relationships don’t end with a conscious kiss-off or a knock-down, dragout battle. Instead, they fizzle out or wither away. Or, as in the example PRINCIPLE #1: SEE RELATIONSHIPS AS VALUABLE ASSETS ❘ 17 of the snack and cereal company cited earlier, they end because a management decision hurts a relationship that no one adequately considered. Ultimately, however, in one way or another most business relationships that die do so because it’s nobody’s job to see that they live. Therefore, management must make sure that the care and feeding of relationships is somebody’s job.

Those companies had sales forces already calling on the very customers we were targeting. We believed that we could leverage off their sales forces if we could find a win for those vendors. A software company usually finds itself competing for a customer against two or three other firms with similar software. As part of the sales process, each company demonstrates its software for the prospective buyer, usually with canned data—Acme Corporation, widgets, fictitious numbers, that sort of thing. To give these companies a win—and a reason to introduce us to their prospects and clients—we offered to create for their salespeople in these situations, at no cost to them, a customized demo of the software using the prospect’s data.

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