"Creating such strong, trusting relationships with your clients is rewarding."
By Ilene Wolff
When staff members of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw (Mich.) have new print projects, they lay out their budget and goals to their sales consultant with The F.P. Horak Company, Fred Zingg. Often, Zingg will suggest ideas for greater efficiency or a lower cost, says the diocese’s Mary Beth Curtiss. He does so even though many sales people make it their mission to sell more, not less.
“That’s where the trust comes in,” explains Curtiss.
Zingg may not know it, but he’s following tip No. 3 of blogger and peak performance coach Paul Morin’s rules for becoming a trusted business adviser. Look at the relationship with a view toward the long term, Morin advises, and avoid the pitfall of trying to get the most money out of a client every time.
“They (clients) need to know that you will always do the right thing by them, in the short-term, long-term, and any other timeframe you can think of,” he writes on his blog, www.companyfounder.com.
Zingg’s focus on saving his client money vs. making a quick hit may be why Curtiss describes her relationship with The F.P. Horak Company, a Bay City, Mich.-based full-service printing and marketing solutions provider, as a “partnership.”
Curious about Morin’s other tips for success as a trusted business adviser? Read on.
Do what you say you are going to do
Zingg had to postpone the interview for this story twice when the Saginaw Diocese’s 75th Anniversary Mass was two days away and his company needed to complete and deliver a 32-page worship aid booklet for the event. Even after the interview finally got underway, Zingg had to excuse himself again—not once, but twice—to answer his cell phone.
“Most of the time if the phone rang, I would let it go to voicemail,” Zingg explains apologetically. But not with a client’s deadline just two days away.
Happily, everything worked out fine: The booklets arrived the morning of the event and were “beautiful,” Curtiss says.
Do not over-commit
Just as he was truthful with a reporter about needing to take care of details on the Mass booklet, Zingg is also honest when it comes to fulfilling last-minute client requests.
“If there’s no way, I’m upfront with them,” he says. “I don’t take a job I can’t deliver on.”
Treat everyone well
Zingg has sold printing for The F.P. Horak Company for 21 years. Prior to that, his training ground was a large national corporation where he had great mentors among the sales staff.
“Those are guys that had been in the business a long time and they taught me an awful lot,” he says.
For example, Zingg learned to pay attention to the little things, like being friendly and getting to know the receptionists in his clients’ front offices. “That receptionist could be a buyer a year from now,” Zingg says.
Help people without expecting anything in return
While Curtiss has worked for the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw about four years, her acquaintance with Zingg started years before that when he was a volunteer soccer coach for one of her daughters.
And even though Zingg is not big into wining and dining clients, he always plans to attend the events that are important to his clients, like the 75th Anniversary Mass.
Remember that the client must be satisfied
Zingg also learned from his mentors that customer service is key in his very competitive business.
“My clients are my No. 1 priority,” he says. “If we don’t take care of our clients the way they need and expect to be taken care of, they’ll go somewhere else.”
Critical to Zingg’s success in having satisfied clients is being an effective liaison between his customers and his company. At the start of any project, it’s his responsibility to get inside the client’s head to understand the job. What are their objectives? What are they looking to accomplishment? Who is their target audience? What is their budget for the project? How does a particular project fit into the strategic plan? “You have to understand what their needs are,” Zingg says.
Just as Zingg is committed to doing, a business advisor should listen closely and make recommendations that take the client’s objectives to heart. Another example from a Catholic Diocese of Saginaw project underscores the value a trusted business advisor—rather than a traditional “salesperson”—can bring to a customer’s bottom line.
At times the diocese needs to send different sets of materials to its various member parishes. That’s different versions of multiple print pieces being accurately and simultaneously delivered to geographically diverse audiences. What could be a logistics headache for the diocese is something Zingg and The F.P. Horak Company efficiently sort out on behalf of their client. They set up a system for every new project and handle each step, from A to Z.
In a similar turnkey approach, Zingg and the Horak team recently assisted a school district client with student recruitment for its schools. Not only did Horak research and buy a mailing list for the project, it created and sent personalized notices to parents, set up personalized URLs to gather their responses, and reported the results to the client. The comprehensive from start-to-finish campaign saved the client considerable time in what could have been their need to manage each phase individually.
ROI on many levels
“Creating such strong, trusting relationships with your clients is rewarding on many levels,” Morin writes on his blog. “You will not regret the effort you must put in to make it happen.