Have you ever been blindsided by learning that a relationship that you thought was going well, was not? Unfortunately this happens a lot. And when it does, it almost always comes at a high-cost.
We’ve seen this most recently with the run-up to the World Cup and protestors’ complaints that the level of government spending proves that government has lost touch with the needs of its people.
We have seen it in the USA in a Virginia primary, where a highly-placed and well-funded incumbent lost the primary race because people said he had lost touch with his constituents.
And we hear it from our friends who tell stories about broken service relationships.
Most importantly, we’ve read or heard about the high cost of losing touch in endless stories about broken business relationships, lost contracts and/or resulting lawsuits.
Complexity of B2B Relationships
Unfortunately, the complexity of B2B relationships makes “keeping in touch” particularly difficult.
That’s because structure of the interconnected relationships makes it difficult – if not impossible – to see dangerous (and encouraging!) relationship trends that emerge deep in companies, beyond the reach of the relatively few monitored sales and customer service contacts. We are left to judge the health of our B2B relationships more on what we hear from those key contacts we find compatible, rather than digging deeper to see what lies just below the surface.
S4 Consulting’s own research shows that relationship problems often fester for years before senior management actually hears about the seriousness of them and then it is either too late or takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money to turn things around.
The traditional surveys typically used to reflect relationship quality, with which I have had deep experience, can only take us so far. They give us snapshots of the mean (average) perceptions of a randomly-selected and usually anonymous participant.
Thus, the survey results can help us take action on the product design, operational or service issues, but we cannot gain the actionable information we need to intervene in order to protect, repair or grow the B2B – and H2H (human-to-human) relationships – deep within the company.
Because we cannot actually see how those individual relationships are changing over time, we often pay the high cost of being blindsided.
A New Solution
I bring all this up because I recently attended a meeting in Paris and discovered the best new tool I have seen for relationship management in 10 years. I was excited because I know that it can help companies from being blindsided.
By providing deep information in an unobtrusive way, we can follow individuals deep within the B2B relationship over time. We can see how what we do lifts people up… and drags them down. We can design interventions to turn relationships around or leverage momentum. And best of all, we can see the results of an intervention and adjust accordingly.
As I said earlier, I am very excited by the possibility of companies avoiding being blindsided by relationship issues. I’m looking forward to partnering with colleagues in New Zealand in taking business relationship management to the next level by putting this tool into practice.
If you would like to schedule a short demo of the
features and benefits of this new tool, click this link.
Photo courtesy of Sebastiaan ter Burg.