The best relationships in life are those that take years to build. Learning how someone thinks, how they communicate, and what they value are the rewards of loyalty and invested time. When I spoke with Seattle BDM Kevin Clark this week, I couldn’t help but reflect on the quote, “What comes easy won’t last, what lasts won’t come easy.” In many ways the work of a BDM is marked by the same longevity as a lifelong friendship; two parties overcoming obstacles with the other’s best interest at heart.
It is the longevity, Kevin explained, that makes the BDM role something he truly enjoys. “Once a client signs a contract, a partnership begins. In eight years I have gotten the chance to know my clients personally and watch them open up and let their guard down. They all know that first and foremost I am their advocate and will do right by them.”
“It takes time to truly understand what a client’s program should look like, and having those relationships helps you know what fits their particular style and budget. Sometimes that means going backward. Retooling doesn’t mean you can’t have a great program. The worst thing you can do is continue pushing an instant-gratification big program that isn’t sustainable. With a certain level of care and respect you can find that sweet spot, together.”
Great relationships are not achieved without a few bumps in the road, however. Like I said, what lasts never does come easy. Obstacles provide opportunities for growth, something that Kevin is quite passionate about. “The biggest thing you want as a BDM is for your client to know you are listening. Listening in the good times, and listening in the not so good times. I can say that my most satisfying moment at Aramark came from spending time with an unhappy client to change their program and create something that better met their needs. The care I had for that partnership was worth learning from failure and becoming better as a result. That client has since been with me for a very long time.”
This week, know that nothing worth having will come without the necessary work to keep it. Always keep sight of the value of each relationship you develop and take the steps to properly maintain it.
LOOKING AHEAD: One thing Kevin and I agreed on is the value of a slow burn over a flash in the pan. Those flashes may seem attractive at first, but may not be suited for the long haul. Invest your time in the things that will bring you long term dividends!