Just the other day a customer jokingly referred to me as being on the payroll. Well, OK he was probably only half joking as this is a large client when measured financially. It got me thinking, however, why he would say that at all?
“I suggest that you drop the words customer and client from your vocabulary. Both those terms mean they view you as being there to serve them. I have found using the term business partner to describe those relationships helps change the relationship. Now you are working together to solve an issue/problem. Which relationship do you think will last longer, the relationship where they perceive you to be serving them or the relationship where they perceive you to be working together? The beauty of it is that it is subtle, so it does not sound like you are selling yet you are changing their mindset on how they view the relationship.” – Bob Raffel
I’m a little hesitant to use the term “business partner” because I actually have one of those in the legal sense and don’t want the relationships to be confused. I do see my brother’s point, however, and am working on a way to eliminate both customer and client from my vocabulary. For me the correct replacement term may not be “business partner.”‘
I’m certain being viewed as a co-worker/partner vs. a supplier/vendor is a desirable place to be. It makes working together and forming functional teams a much smoother process.