Can I just pretend I really, really care about you and send you an e-card for Christmas?

This weekend, the missus and I wrapped up our shopping for family for the holidays.  I have to say: "We were more thoughtful this year than any time previously..."

(at least I thought so)

We really thought through the whole process and I am pumped by the stack of "stuff" sitting in our kitchen that needs to be wrapped.

It's about the relationship, right?

There are people you care about -- people around whom you really want to build a history.  It kind of parallels your deal making process.

Makes sense, right?  You want to do business with people that you can stand being around.  People you like.

That's about building a relationship.  Not seasonal email torpedoing.  But a consistent communication thread.

My inbox got me thinking..........

How special would you feel if you were sent the following e-card from someone that you spent money with this year?

I love the "We hope this communication is welcomed..."  Makes me feel like you really remember who I am.  And are you really giving me the option to unsubscribe from next year's seasonal greetings?

You tell me.  Maybe I am being picky.

Now how about this one...  Are you feeling the love?

I now have to click on a link to go a site to see all the Christmas warmth you can't wait to share with me... As if that isn't enough to do, there is the obligatory signature language informing me that I could be sued for mishandling the email you are sending me.  WOW.... way too much baggage for me to do anything with.  I just have to archive it...

These both ended up in my inbox (along with a tiresome few others...) and I just didn't have the energy to keep clicking through to link after link so I could get in the Christmas spirit.  It kind of made it all feel like a "chore"...

Like maybe our relationship wasn't so important after all...

Know what I mean?

It gets you thinking.  What's the logic behind this?

Who emerged from their marketing "bat-cave" with the fantabulous idea that impersonal seasonalized hyperlink creation was something that made customers feel like "you care"?

Was there a memo in the late '90s that I missed?

Two words: CALL ME...

I know I'm a little cranky when it comes to this stuff, but doesn't it seem a little dis-ingenuous?  Even if you give the sender the "benefit of the doubt", you can't overlook the general lack of creativity.  The fact remains that in the haste to have another "client touch", the marketer forgot to put himself in the recipient position.

Here's reality: No one really reads this stuff.

(not even your grandma who has unlimited Facebooktime)

Maybe the first one you get (right after Thanksgiving), but right around the second week in December you are left with no other choice but massive select-and-archive.  You even feel a little bad about it, but you justify if by telling yourself that if you have time, you'll dig them out later at home to look through.

And you never do...  It's just not a high priority.

Without a relationship, you just avoid all the rest of  the noise coming at you.

And certainly this mirrors a hunch I have had for some time now as I talk with C-level executives and ask about their behavior to inbound messaging.  I decided to test my theory.  About a week ago, I put a poll up on LinkedIn asking the following question:

"If relationships really do matter in sales, why don't we build better ones throughout our selling process?"

Here are the overall results:

  • 40% stated that they didn't have enough access to the right people to build a great relationship...
  • 10% noted that they tried to build good relationships but didn't know how to keep it up...
  • 20% thought that it wasn't really a good use of their time...  AND
  • 30% admitted they weren't really sure how to build great relationships...

When you study this further, you see that ALL of the CEO's who responded to this question answered the same -- that they had not developed this skill of long term relationship building.

Are you surprised?  You might have thought that senior level executives had "schmoozing" all figured out.  Maybe not.  Maybe there's more to that cocktail parties and fast one-liners.

The numbers get more interesting when you look at the size of the companies responding.  All of the big guys (who would have the biggest sales and marketing budgets) all noted that they didn't have access to the right people to build great relationships.

Essentially, the guys with the most advantages toward building the best relationships were the least likely to know how to get the right people.  Interesting indeed.

When you look at the age for relationship building, it becomes even more significant.  The young guys and old guys fall into the same category -- limited access to the right executives.  While the mid-life high-performers know the right people, but aren't really sure what to do to keep their attention.

Kind of what you would expect from life, right?  You work hard to get somewhere; and then once you're there you push so far and fast ahead that you lose valuable ties to people who could be a valuable resource to you.

Young or old, big or small -- we all need to work a little harder to keep our relationships strong.  They are our lifeblood, our lifeline to accomplishing our life's mission.

So think about how you treat your relationships.

Are you asking friends to triple-click through your e-card nonsense, or are you bold enough to just say "Thank You"...  and mean it...

P.S.  Thank you to all the amazing readers of The DEW View!  Have a Happy Holidays.  I am grateful that I was able be a part of your 2009 selling year.  Take some time to get recharged and then let's plan on changing the world together in '10....  Thanks again!!!