Over the past several years, I’ve built a relationship based on trust with a vendor who I’ve relied on over and over. This relationship didn’t start off by producing big dollars for his company. In fact, for the first several years, it was a relationship based upon a free exchange of value.
They began by attracting me with some insights on their blog and over time, I became more interested. I read blogs, looked at infographics, followed them on Twitter, and then, over time, dove in and spent more time reading more in-depth perspectives and opinions, and even reading a book.
My commitment went from five minutes a day to 20 to 30 minutes a day. Eventually, I made a first purchase. My first purchase was small dollars, but has been increasing ever since. I have trust in that they’ve provided tons of value.
But the trust that you can build in a five-year period of time can be destroyed in a five-minute period of time.
I recently had an experience in which I brought in several other people and began to add even more value to the relationship for this vendor. Unfortunately, they took advantage. Instead of the approach they have taken for years — adding value, building a trust relationship with patience, over time — they decided to get salesy.
I don’t have a problem with making money. In fact, I believe that value should be paid for. But they disrupted the brand equity they had built with me by taking advantage and trying to sell blatantly over and over. They had built a reputation that they were a value-added provider, that they were a partner and not a vendor, that they were about relationship and not transaction.
My most recent experience, in which I brought several others to the table, destroyed that reputation in one period of time. They became transactional overnight. They threw out their commitment to the relationship. They decided that immediate monetization and immediate gratification was more important. It’s very unlikely that I’ll invite anyone back to experience them again.
I’ve soured myself and am considering whether I should pull back in my most recent thoughts on how I would engage with them again. It’s disappointing. I feel betrayed.
What are you doing to build your relationships? Are you taking advantage, or do you continue to be who you are, even once you’re successful in landing that new client?