How many times have you purchased something because the salesperson was nice and respectful to you? I know I’ve done that many times, even if it wasn’t my intention to buy anything in the first place. As you know from reading my previous blogs, relationship building is one of the most effective ways to achieve success, both with clients and team members.
Today, I’m going to teach you one of the guiding principles that we practice every day at Business Marketing Engine. We have 15 guiding principles implemented every day to serve our clients at the highest level. Number eight is Positive Confrontation:
“BME is a safe place where we provide direct and respectful communication and feedback whenever there are challenges, issues and opportunities.”
When we think of the word “confrontation”, we tend to see it negatively, thinking of arguments or fights. However, I’m here to show you the positive side of confrontation and how it relates to building relationships.
Serving at the Highest Level
I’ve spent over 20 years trying to master how to serve my team and clients at the highest level. Positive confrontation is just one of the ways I accomplish that goal. Since we’re a team of marketing professionals, we often know more about our client’s prospects than they do.
When discussing possible strategies for a client, it’s totally normal for us to have disagreements. Let’s say that we’re editing a book for a client. While the client is the expert in his or her industry, we’re in charge of making the copy as effective as possible. Let’s say the client’s book is missing some key points, or the copy doesn’t flow well.
Instead of telling the client that the book sucks or that the structure needs to be changed, we work with them in a kind, respectful way. First, we can start by discussing what IS effective and how we can highlight that in the book. Next, discuss what ISN’T effective, why it isn’t effective, and if we can revise or remove it.
It’s crucial to remember to be kind but also direct. If the client’s book has obvious issues, they need to be aware of them. What happens if we don’t have these conversations? Readers may not like the book, causing damage to the client’s reputation. Do you think they’d work with you again after that experience?
Kindness Doesn’t Make You Soft
It’s my belief that many people mistake kindness for softness, which is just not true. On the flip side, there is a way to be direct without being disrespectful. If you treat a client with kindness and respect, they will be much more likely to work with you in the future. That directly ties into relationship building. The more you nurture a client relationship, the more likely they are to work with you and refer you to others.
But as all entrepreneurs know, there are difficult clients out there — clients who may not respond well to feedback or understand what we’re trying to solve for them. That’s okay. Just remember to always come back to positive confrontation. Treat every client with respect, no matter how difficult they are.
Positive confrontation can also be applied within your organization. On my team, we strive for continuous improvement by implementing different training and learning opportunities. I have the utmost confidence in all of my team members, but that doesn’t mean coaching isn’t necessary.
If I see a team member struggling or not fully understanding a task, I confront them about it in a positive way. Instead of discouraging them or making them feel inadequate, I use it as a growth opportunity. I try to see where they’re coming from and how I can help them. My job as a CEO is to remove barriers and help provide solutions. Positive confrontation is the best way for me to do that.
As stated in the guiding principle, we provide a “safe space” for feedback. I want my team to feel confident asking for help, not scared of being yelled at for not knowing something. Instilling this attitude within my team, in turn, helps them serve our clients better.
My hope is that you try implementing positive confrontation within your organization and see how effective it can be for your team and clients. Let me know what you think in the comments below and contact me with any questions about entrepreneurship. Here’s to your success.