What Strategic Account Management and Social Media have in common: The Law of Reciprocity
When we start to work with Account Teams, one of the areas we focus on is creating value. With major accounts this means “beyond products and services” and “beyond this financial year”. In an environment where there is laser focus on achieving revenue targets and maximising returns from our customers this is often a difficult change in thinking for teams and their managers to make.
We know from research and experience that if your major account senses that your entire focus is to extract revenue from them, you will not be positioned to build a strategic relationship.
In social media the same rules apply. To build a community of interest, credibility and trust you must first share with no expectation of anything in return. Accordingly those active on social media regularly share articles, insights and information for the benefit of those in their network. There is no expectation they will monetise the value of what they have shared.
In the long-term they will build a positive profile, reputation and relationships, which will ultimately deliver benefit to them and their organisation.
This is The Law of Reciprocity - when someone gives you something you feel an obligation to give back.
Giving and receiving is a common exchange and is an implicit assumption in most of our relationships. When someone does something for you, they implicitly expect that when the circumstance is right, you will do something of approximately equal value for them. The expectation may never be discussed openly but nonetheless it exists and affects all negotiations and relationships.
All parties must benefit from the relationship and invest in the relationship and acts must be mutually rewarding. By helping your customers solve their business problems, you make favourable impressions on them and relationships grow. Even if your efforts seem small, they accumulate over time as you build trust and create a history of what to expect from each other. People judge your motives through your actions and behaviour.
Reciprocity isn't always instant, therefore persistence is vital. Even if you've found yourself saying "I've tried that and it doesn't work", don't give up! The time will come when your investment will pay dividends. By understanding and using the power of reciprocity, you can improve your relationships and avoid mistakes that can permanently damage your relationships. In life and work, you get what you give.
In managing your major accounts what is of low cost to you can be highly valuable to your account. This includes information, insights and experience embedded in your organisation that can assist your account to make decisions in a complex operating environment.
Grasping these concepts is highly challenging for organisations focussed on revenue. If you are serious about creating truly strategic relationships with your largest accounts you must deliver value beyond your products and services.
We have worked with many organisations to identify ways to deliver more value to their largest accounts, so if you need help to make this shift please contact us at Gordian Business on +61 2 9450 1040 or www.gordianbusiness.com.au.