Article 1 of 7
How to Create High-Value Relationships
By Jim Cathcart, author of Relationship Selling
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
It’s time we started seeing Relationships through a Strategic perspective. This is not Relationships as Skill, but rather as Strategy. There is a direct correlation between the number of strategically valuable relationships in your life and your level of success. It is not about “what you know” or “who you know” but rather about “who you know who also considers it important that they know you?”
A Relationship is only an Asset when it is connected, directly or indirectly, to a Desired Outcome. It’s time to become more conscious, intentional and intelligent about the Relationships in your life.
There are Six Stages in the process of conversion from your existing methods toward practicing Relationship Intelligence tm on all levels of your organization.
I. Stimulating the Desire to Change
II. Learning to Become More Intelligent
III. Learning to Select Relationships More Intelligently
IV. Learning to Develop Relationships More Intelligently
V. Learning to Sustain Relationships More Intelligently
VI. Implementing Intelligent Systems to Assure Continuity
Article 2 of 7
Stage One in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System tm) is:
Stimulating the Desire to Change
People have to want to change, otherwise all the energy to affect a change will have to come from you. If the status quo is tolerable to folks then they won’t exert enough energy to affect a lasting change to better practices. So step one is to get everyone into the wagon and then one by one to get them to help you pull the wagon. The ultimate goal is to have everyone pulling so that the effort required from each one is so little as to be unnoticeable.
The two universal motivators are: Avoid Pain and Seek Pleasure. If it is going to hurt more to keep things as they are than it will to change, then people will be open to change. Conversely if they can see that the joy of achieving a new level of success is greater than the comfort of sustaining the current level, then they will cooperate to improve. So paint pictures of the possible futures and expose the potholes in the current road they are traveling.
Do the Math
Think in terms of Behavioral Economics: What is it costing you to continue performing as you do today?
Here are some questions to get people thinking about how valuable improvements in their relationships can be for them.
Consider the value of the untapped potential within your existing relationships.
* How many more sales are there for you?
* How many referrals are you not yet getting?
* How many ideas for product improvement, process enhancement, cost savings, waste reduction, safety improvement, new opportunities, and faster results are already there just waiting to be tapped? Put a dollar value on your estimate.
* How many of your people bring attitudes to their work that literally cost you money and reduce your output? Guess what the financial impact of that might be.
* What habits exist within your workforce that keeps you from being more successful?
* Which standard practices need to be replaced in order to open up new levels of success?
* How many of the relationships in your organization are somewhat dysfunctional? What is that costing you in wasted opportunities and missed deadlines?
* How much of your absenteeism and your employees’ healthcare claims can be attributed to bad relationships instead of actual illness?
* How much does the “grief factor” in dealing with others take away from your people’s ability to perform at their best?
Where systems haven’t been put into place intentionally – work habits harden into systems anyway.
* How many of your existing systems for marketing, service, production, problem solving, communications, cost control, and planning are working for you and how many of them are working against you?
* What is your organization’s current reputation in the marketplace? How about among your coworkers and associates? Is that the reputation you intended to enjoy or would you like to see it evolve into something more ideal?
* What does your current organizational reputation cost you each year compared to what it could be?
* How loyal are your current customers and clients to you? How loyal are you to them?
* How often have you lost business due to not knowing the inner relationships and personalities within your targeted client’s organizations? What is that costing you?
We all know that things that get measured tend to improve. If you keep a constant vigil on where your money comes from and where it goes to, then you will become better at managing your money…even without financial skills training.
* Do you and your people have the right scoreboards prominently visible so that everyone can track what is working and what is not? What would it be worth to you if you always knew exactly where things stand?
Each of these questions guides you toward seeing your relationships in a new light.
As you discuss and explore questions like these you will begin to place a financial and strategic value on the ways in which people deal with each other. You will see that there is a direct financial impact felt from certain Attitudes, Skills and Habits. (Mindsets, Skill Sets and Systems.) These can each be improved through training and management practices that are targeted toward a specific Desired Outcome.
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
Article 3 of 7
Stage Two in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System) is:
Learning to Become More Intelligent
To Know More, Notice More
The essence of Intelligence is the ability to make distinctions, noticing more than others do. In the first stage of the Relationship Intelligence System there is a series of questions based on looking at your organization in terms of “Behavioral Economics.” Each of the questions was designed to cause you to notice more about a particular aspect of your organization.
In each category; sales, management, communications, operations, service delivery, interpersonal communication, etc. there is immense opportunity for improvement.
Consider each as an Acorn, the seed of millions of future Acorns…if you nurture and grow it properly.
Now let’s work on becoming more intelligent about relationships.
Step one in becoming more intelligent is to get into the habit of “helicoptering up” to a higher perspective so that you can see the patterns in things. As you become more aware of the patterns you will begin to discover the principles that make those patterns work. And once you have discovered the principles, you can make better choices.
The three levels of Thinking are: Conceptual, Strategic and Operational.
Most people function at the Operational level of thinking – what you can see is assumed to be all that there is. They see a ballpoint pen as simply a writing instrument. Those who develop their thinking to the Strategic level would tell you that the pen is also a marking instrument, an artist’s tool, an ear scratcher, a pointing device and even a form of business jewelry. They see many more uses for it than the obvious. Now which do you think will find more solutions to a problem, the operational or the strategic thinker?
The person who learns to think on the Conceptual level opens up even more vistas and opportunities. They would tell you that the pen is a symbol of mankind’s ability to communicate across space and time using a combination of hand crafted elements to change their world. Whoa! That may be a bit stratospheric for some folks, but consider for a moment, if more of your people were to progress from Operational to Strategic, and some of them even to Conceptual thinking skill…wouldn’t that increase in Intelligence be likely to expand your profitability as well? Some jobs simply require Operational thinking but even those jobs could be streamlined through more Intelligent thinking.
Intelligence doesn’t operate in a vacuum.
It is not very useful to just have raw processing capacity or intellectual potential. It only begins to matter when you direct it with intention.
The activating factor for Relationship Intelligence is your Desired Outcome.
Once you decide what you want then everything you do or avoid doing takes on more meaning. Meaning is the motivator in life. Without meaning our jobs become drudgery and we resent the work. With meaning they take on purpose and we seek even better ways to reach the Desired Outcome.
Desired Outcomes are goals and life requires goals in order to organize itself. When you decide what you want then everything else takes on a new place in the order of things. Relationships that contribute toward your goal move forward and those that detract move aside. So look at all of your relationships in terms of what you want from your life. Assign a role or level of importance to each relationship.
Even a casual friendship has a Desired Outcome of support, mutual caring and enjoyable communication. In each relationship as the Desired Outcome grows so does the relationship itself. Every contact takes on new meaning and motivation is the by product.
Be more Conscious, more Intentional and be more Natural.
By noticing more as described earlier, people become more Conscious of what they do and how it is working. Thinking and talking about Desired Outcomes conditions people to become more Intentional in what they do. Then by finding ways to communicate openly and truthfully they become more Natural about what they do. They do their best by behaving as their best self, not by trying to become something else. “If you are an Acorn you should plan an Oak future. You are going to be one anyway, so why not be the best Oak you can be instead of trying to become a Giant Redwood?” Your greatest impact will be felt from doing the things you are naturally suited for.
There are multiple ways to increase your intelligence. These are outlined in my book The Acorn Principle. I’ll enumerate some of them here for your review.
Develop your multiple intellects:
1. Verbal Intelligence: Word Smarts – cultivate a larger vocabulary. The more ways you can express yourself and understand others the greater your possibilities will be.
2. Visual Intelligence: Picture Smarts – learn to think in terms of images, shapes and patterns. Practice seeing the outcome you desire.
3. Physical Intelligence: Body Smarts – develop your ability to use your body well. Play music, create art, dance, run, stretch, move in the many ways you can. This will add to your ability to achieve more in a physical sense, plus you’ll probably become more fit.
4. Musical Intelligence: Music Smarts – this is not just music in the usual sense but also rhythm and pace as it relates to all things. Timing is a big element of music and the better you are at timing the more intelligent you can be in what you are doing.
5. Mathematical and Logical Intelligence: Number Smarts – the world operates according to universal laws and many of those can be better understood through math & logic. By expanding your math intellect (try Sudoku and other exercises) you expand your overall strategic and tactical ability.
6. Interpersonal Intelligence: People Smarts – study human behavior and psychology to learn more about how to listen and how to express yourself to each different type of person. This broadens your reach and appeal. People are your gateway to everything you want.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence: Self Smarts – Socrates told us “Know Thyself.” The reason this matters so much is that the better you understand You, the better and more readily you will understand the patterns that cause others to behave as they do. You will also come to like yourself better and judge people less as this intellect grows.
8. There is much discussion around other forms of intellect but the seven presented above will give you more than enough to expand your potential before trying to explore the others.
Indicators of Intelligence – work on these to become more intelligent
1. Ability to Make Distinctions – get into the habit of noticing more about every situation you are in. See through multiple points of view. Practice this daily.
2. A Wide Vocabulary – study the special vocabulary of the society, business or organization you wish to connect with. The better you “speak their language” the more you will fit in and be accepted by them.
3. The Use of Metaphors and Analogies – learn to think in pictures and comparisons. Using examples in this way broadens the understanding of the topic by illustrating the main idea and principles as well as the specifics. It’s like understanding military tactics helps you understand sports and vice versa.
4. Flexibility and Adaptability – the more ways you have to respond to a situation the more likely you are to prevail. Cultivate the ability to change quickly and smoothly.
5. Problem Solving – learn to assess causes and distinguish between a symptom and a cause. Find multiple models for solving problems to increase your chances of success.
6. Time Orientation – Operational thinkers focus on the past and present only. Strategic thinkers can see both the present and the future possibilities. Conceptual thinkers seem to focus primarily on the future. Be conscious of the time frame you are looking through.
7. Sensitivity – As you notice more, assure that you notice not only thoughts but also feelings. The more sensitive you are to your own feelings and the feelings of others, the more you will see solutions where others only see or feel problems.
8. Memory – If you don’t remember it then you don’t really know it. Use proven memory techniques to improve your ability to understand and recall information of all types. The more you remember the more points of reference you can use to remember even more.
Intelligence is expandable. You can learn to behave more intelligently and you can certainly become more intelligent about the relationships in your life.
In the Spirit of Growth,
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
Article 4 of 7
Stage Three in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System) is:
Learning to Select Relationships More Intelligently
Intelligent Relationships begin with your choice of who to spend time with.
At last count there were over five billion people on Earth. With today’s technology and a little extra effort there is a good chance that you could connect with any of them.
So which ones should you connect with?
The answer, of course, depends upon your Desired Outcome.
This stage of training is where you focus on finding the people who can make a difference for you. People you can serve profitably and those who can open doors for you. As I mentioned earlier, Intelligence in this sense is Noticing More and being more Conscious, Intentional and Natural in your choices.
In any organization the results are produced by what we call an “Inner Circle.” This is the primary group of people who cause action to occur and results to be achieved. It is typically fewer than twenty and more than two individuals.
Consider in your own job who the three to twelve individuals are without whom you’d be hard pressed to sustain your success?
Who is vital to achieving your results? Take some time to write down all their names on one sheet of paper. Then reflect on this group and notice the implications (in outcomes) if each one were to increase their skills, knowledge, habits, relationships or attitude.
Any change in the Inner Circle will be felt throughout that section of the organization.
The three things to look at first with each Inner Circle are:
1. Who are the players and what does each one of them bring to the team?
2. What is the mix of talent, experience and ability represented on the Inner Circle? Is it a championship team yet?
3. How are the relationships between you and each of them? How are their relationships with each other?
Are there some members who should move to the outer circle? Are some talents missing from this group? Should you go shopping for a new member or two? Who exerts the most influence in the group? There is much to think about with each Inner Circle as you can see.
Find the Leverage Points
The Inner Circle is the Leverage Point for getting to your Desired Outcomes. Every system has Leverage Points where impact is felt more powerfully than at other points in the system. In an automobile one of the leverage points is the fuel delivery system. If you cut off the fuel flow to the engine the entire car will stop. In an organization it may be a department or committee. Among groups the Leverage Points are usually one or two individuals and even with them it is often one or two key aspects of your relationship that holds the most potential for influence.
In selling it has been long understood that the company owner is a leverage point, but sometimes so is the receptionist or administrative assistant. This person, who usually has much less economic power in the business, still holds the keys necessary for you to gain access to the executives. A relationship with a receptionist, when handled poorly, can end your ability to penetrate an organization further.
The same dynamic exists in all groups, communities, and societies. Certain people are more influential, more well liked, admired and listened to than others. When you gain access to these people your options expand dramatically.
Look at all “organizations” in your life and begin to identify the Inner Circle within each of them.
In the Spirit of Growth,
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
Article 5 of 7
Stage Four in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System) is:
Learning to Develop Relationships More Intelligently
Creating High-Value Relationships
Relationships evolve in stages from New Acquaintance through Close Friend or Business Partner.
As we progress the trust increases and information sharing expands.
The more we know about each other the more ways we can find to be of value. As my philosopher friend, Kevin Buck says, “Trust is a fruit.” You can’t grow the fruit, only the plant can do that. But you can nurture the plant and it will produce the fruit in its own time.
In order to make progress we need to focus, not on building trust but, first on reducing relationship tension. We don’t have direct access to trust but we do have the ability to reduce fears, worries and anxiety. Then the trust will grow.
So the first step in any relationship is to take an interest in the concerns of the other person and show that you are not a threat.
Once they discover that they can relax with you then their tension drops and trust grows.
If you want people to become interested in you, first take a sincere interest in them.
Learn not just to listen to others but to actually hear and understand what they are communicating.
There are three essentials for any relationship, whether it is with customers, colleagues or supervisors.
These are: Commitment, Open Communication and Clear Agreements.
1. Both parties must be committed to making the relationship successful. Nobody can bear the full burden alone.
2. Communication must be open and frequent. The truth must be told always and bad news must travel fastest of all.
3. Both parties must know what the others expect from them. Clear agreements are essential.
It is important to go back to the Inner Circle and examine the three essentials in each of the relationships. This will tell you exactly what “homework” is needed in order to enhance that relationship and access its full potential value. Once you have assessed each relationship in this way, helicopter up again and look at the patterns of missing “essentials” among all of the relationships. That will show you both the obvious and the hidden systems by which this group operates.
For example: if you find that most of your relationships show a one sided commitment, the solution may be in rethinking how you establish your relationships and how clearly you articulate the value others will get from connecting with you. If your communication isn’t open enough in most relationships then a new skill for listening and expressing may be needed. If you have numerous conflicts and missed expectations then perhaps you need to improve your skills at negotiation and clarifying agreements.
Another way to look at the development of relationships more intelligently is Modus Operandi, the Latin term for mode or style of operation.
In every situation we have the choice of being passive or active, of knowing more or less. By observing these two dimensions you can see what Mode a person is in:
Passenger, Navigator, Driver or Leader.
For example: when I get on an airplane for a trip I assume both the literal and figurative “Passenger” mode. My knowledge and awareness as to how to fly the plane is very low and my actions to influence the outcome are simply compliance with the instructions I receive. I take my seat, store my luggage and follow directions.
If a problem arises then I will increase my performance by looking for ways to help and I’ll seek more knowledge by asking the flight attendant what is wrong and how I might help. If the flight attendant appears to not be in control then I will take further action by seeking information from one of the crew. And if the plane itself seems to be out of control then I’d be willing to take the pilot’s seat if necessary and do my best to land the plane. In other words, my Mode of Operation (MO) would change as the situation changed.
The same dynamics appear in all situations. And by reading the situation you can determine the appropriate MO to assume.
In a meeting you might be in Passenger mode (low awareness, low performance) until you are called on to make a report. Then you’d operate from high awareness (telling what you know) and somewhat higher performance (as you presented your report.) This is called Navigator mode. If the chairperson left the room and asked you to facilitate the rest of the meeting you’d be in Driver mode, high performance and low awareness. You would not be controlling the meeting’s content, you’d simply be facilitating the input from others. Assuming the meeting went well, you might be asked to chair the next meeting. In that case, once you had prepared well, you would be in Leader mode; high awareness and high performance.
By the way, you cannot assume a higher mode without acquiring the element that defines it. You can’t move from Passenger to Navigator without increasing your awareness and knowledge. You can’t move from Passenger to Driver without increasing your performance. And you can’t move into Leader mode without increasing both awareness and performance. You can, however, choose to operate in a different mode temporarily if moving from higher to lower on the scales.
How to use MO with others
When you encounter another person in any of these modes you can determine by their MO how to best guide them to the next level of operation.
If their awareness is low, they need education.
If their performance is low, they need motivation.
Without the right combination of those two, things would go awry. Someone with low awareness is not ready to Lead or Navigate (Advise). Someone with low performance is not ready to Drive or Lead. Someone in Driver mode doesn’t need motivation, they’d just burn out. What they need is education so that they are working smarter, not harder. There is much more to this, but you no doubt get the point. Determine one’s MO and you know whether you need to educate or motivate or simply support them in what they are doing.
Without purpose this all just becomes a process.
As I had mentioned earlier, each relationship needs a Desired Outcome, even if it is simply a casual acquaintance. This does not mean that you have to become mercenary in your dealings with others. It simply means that you need to begin to notice why each relationship matters to you.
The more we are able to see, the more intelligent we can be.
Take a look at all the relationships in your life. Just make a list of as many as you can think of. Then put them into categories that make sense to you. These might be: colleagues, club members, coworkers, team members, close family, extended family, neighbors, prospective customers, clients, mentors, teachers, “play-mates”, etc. Some people will fit into multiple categories and that is worth noting.
Once you have all of them listed and coded as to their groups, take some time to simply reflect on what you see. Just casually look over your lists and see what you notice.
What happens for many people is that they begin to see opportunities. They remember things they had forgotten to follow up on. They notice how they could be of service to some of them. At this point you will want to start making notes and “to do” lists for activating these relationships in new and meaningful ways. Many of them will have no commercial implications to you, others will matter a great deal to you financially. Just notice more and start taking intelligent actions.
Devise a method for keeping this information in front of you. Don’t just file it away, make it an active part of each day. Take a few moments each day to reflect on the implications and opportunities in all of your relationships.
Then develop a “Shopping List” of new relationships you’d like to form. Keep a list of names and titles of people who you would benefit from knowing better. Review the list every week and keep your radar tuned to opportunities to be more intelligent in your cultivation of relationships.
In the Spirit of Growth, Jim Cathcart, copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
Article 6 of 7
Stage Five in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System) is:
Learning to Sustain Relationships More Intelligently
They say it is not what you know that counts, it is who you know. I disagree. I’ve found that what really counts in relationships is: Who is glad that they know you!
We only have a valuable relationship when both parties consider it valuable.
Customer Loyalty Revisited
For a couple of decades now the business community has been filled with messages and models as to how we can build more customer loyalty. The automotive industry has its “Customer Satisfaction Index” and many other industries have developed frequent buyer programs, starting with the airlines back in the early 1980s. All of these endeavors are intended to increase the customer’s loyalty to the company and its products. But I think the energy is being misdirected.
We need to stop worrying about causing the customers to become more loyal to us and start focusing on becoming more loyal to our customers. When our customers get it that we are truly loyal to them, then they will start valuing their connections with us more strongly. It’s like my son told me during his college years when he worked at Mailboxes, Etc., “Dad, I’ve noticed that the people who get the most mail are the ones who send the most mail.” Customer Loyalty should be approached in the same way.
Customer Loyalty should be something we give rather than merely something we seek.
Every day you and your organization have a multitude of contacts with the marketplace. From your online ads to your showrooms, phone calls, in person visits, service calls, telephone orders, mailings, and more…you are continually in touch with others. Each of these contacts has the potential to leave an impression, either positive or negative. If every impression you leave seems to show how loyal you are to those who do business with you, then others will want to do business with you too.
Isolate each Point of Contact and Enhance It
Think of your business as a golf ball. The average golf ball has over 300 impressions on its surface. If only one of those 300 impressions is imperfect then the ball is rejected as a “second” that is not fit for a retail sale. Your business makes hundreds of impressions each week and every one of those has the potential to be near perfect. The more positive impressions you make the more customer loyalty you will be giving and receiving. These have been referred to as “moments of truth” in which your relationship with a customer or prospect is influenced toward the good or bad.
The easiest way to approach this process is to isolate the various Service Cycles within your regular operations and identify all the points of contact. Then brainstorm ways to enhance each contact and assure that your high standards are maintained.
Up-Serving rather than Up-Selling
Businesses frequently encourage their personnel to “up-sell” customers to other products, bigger orders and higher priced items. This often leads to the associate pressuring the customer and some of the sales fall apart from the added pressure. The seller feels bad and the customer is annoyed. Of course, it can be done tactfully too and often is. But there is an easier way to approach it.
Change the effort from getting to giving. Instead of seeking to sell more, seek to serve better. Up-Serve instead of Up-Selling.
When you shift to looking for ways to increase customer satisfaction (instead of increasing the transaction) then what occurs is the customer notices that you are sincerely trying to help. That means you are seen as a helper rather than a persuader. They begin to accept you as a Partner in Problem Solving instead of a pushy sales person, and their tension drops. When tension drops, trust grows. As trust grows, they share information more freely and you will see more ways to be of service. This leads to bigger sales. Not through sales pressure, but through improved customer service.
Naturally you still have to present your services and products with an emphasis on the value of the benefits they contain, and you have to ask for the order, but not in the old sense of purveying your wares. Instead practice “Relationship Selling tm” and build profitable business friendships. My television show on TSTN is titled “The Purpose of Selling” and that’s what I say at the top of each episode: “The Purpose of Selling is Building Profitable Business Friendships.”
Decide in advance on the reputation you want to have…and deserve.
The quickest way to open doors and reduce customers’ tension as they consider working with you is to build a great reputation. The quickest way to build a great reputation is to earn and deserve it.
Here’s the process for Reputation Management:
1. Identify all of the groups among whom you will have a reputation
2. Determine exactly what you want them to think and say about you
3. Isolate the ways in which you communicate and interact with them
4. Specify the behaviors you need to cultivate in order to earn the desired reputation
5. Relentlessly perform at the new level in everything that you do
6. Measure and Monitor the messages you are sending and the reactions you are getting
7. Institute Systems and standards to preserve what you have built
In the Spirit of Growth,
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
Article 7 of 7
Stage Six in Creating High-Value Relationships (the Relationship Intelligence System) is:
Implementing Intelligent Systems to Assure Continuity
Systems are the organizational equivalent of habits. We develop systems to ensure that the patterns get repeated, and this becomes true whether they are good or bad. So be careful when selecting your systems. Last night my well-intentioned restaurant server did a horrible job of serving our table because his system was faulty. His attitude and intentions were fine, even his skills at serving were OK, but we left there unhappy anyway. Our service was bad because they were inefficient in determining how to stay attentive to each guest in a regular rotation. So lots of guests got high attention while others got neglected to the point of frustration.
Every part of an organization has systems by which it operates. Some are intentional and some just develop as work patterns without any conscious influence. I suggest that you make more of them intentional.
For example: Relationship management systems abound and the state of the art is advancing every month. There are now systems that will not only capture your data, identify your primary and secondary relationships, and record all your communication with each, but they also now include personality profiles, links to sales and service tips, motivational messages and much more. What used to just be a “data base” has now become a rich information environment where self-management, the management of others and relationship management are merging.
Systems must be based on Standards.
As Peter Drucker once said, paraphrased, “A society that is not based upon a Constitution will not succeed.” We need standards and clearly stated values to guide our day to day actions and choices. So “helicopter up” one more time and look for all the aspects of your operation that could be standardized and enhanced through the use of a system. Be careful, lest you create a bureaucracy where it is all systems and no sense of human connection. The goal after all is to build profitable business friendships and partnerships where trust is high and cooperation is natural and spontaneous.
Be Conscious, Be Intentional, Be Natural and Be Relentless in the intelligent cultivation of Relationships.
After all Relationships are where the organization lives.
If you’d like for us to help you determine which systems are serving you well and what new systems may be needed, please give us a call at Cathcart Institute, Inc. 800-222-4883.
In the Spirit of Growth,
copyright 2008 Jim Cathcart
A total of 5618 words in all seven articles