I am reminded of this by feedback I got from "Tim", a client of mine.
Tim called last week and asked for my advice on the pricing he charged a long-time customer. Tim had bought his way into the customer's vendor list by underpricing his services. The pricing strategy made sense, at first, since Tim had excess capacity and was seeking an entry into a new market segment. But now, Tom was operating at full capacity, was firmly established as a preferred vendor in the segment, and had even improved the product.
We reviewed his options and agreed that a significant rate increase was justified. But when Tim said he would send the new rates via email, I stopped him. You see, Tim had never had a face-to-face meeting with his customer. In fact, had never even spoken with him by phone. Their only relationship was based on price. I told Tim, "If you send it by e-mail, all your customer will see is the price increase. You need to speak with him directly. Tell him how much you have appreciated his business and ask him if he is satisfied with your work and what improvements you could offer. Only then can you explain why a price increase is necessary and point out how you have been providing extra value not offered by other vendors. By being in conversation, you let your customer express any concerns about the new costs so you can look for a win-win situation."
Tim said he felt awkward about speaking with customers -- that is why he had built his business service model around internet and email instead of direct selling. I understood, but urged him to work outside his comfort zone to see what would happen. Since the customer is on the other side of the country, making a face-to-face meeting impractical, I urged Tim to phone the customer.
Tim wrote me today, saying:
"Your seat-of-the-pants insistence (or so it seemed, to me) that I not send an email but instead talk on the phone with my guy in NYC surely made this a different process from what it would have been, had I done things from "my will." Changed behavior led to improbable outcomes: For the first time in memory, in a significant way I have asked for what I need, and I got it."I found these dictionary definitions of "social":
1. relating to or involving activities in which people spend time talking to each other or doing enjoyable things with each otherSo be social and pick up the telephone. (My number is +1 818 219 4937 and I would love to hear from you.)
2. liking to be with and talk to people: happy to be with people
Photo is public domain and accessed at Wikimedia Commons.