Thanksgiving: A Time to Follow Up with Customers and Grow Common Ground
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Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude. In giving thanks for our blessings, many of us celebrate in the traditional way, gathering around the table with family to share a big meal of turkey, mashed potatoes, and other side dishes. Maybe we see some of these family members throughout the year, but maybe others we only see once per year during the holiday season. For the latter, Thanksgiving is a time of “catching up” and talking about what’s been going on in our lives since the last time we saw each other.

For those familiar with Carew’s Dimensions of Professional Selling® (DPS) sales training program, we teach a process model called the JADIK Matrix™.  Put simply, the JADIK Matrix is a representation of a relationship’s journey. It illustrates how a relationship progresses as common ground between both parties in the relationship grows. The way we expand common ground with one another is through information exchange‚ we ask our counterpart questions about him/herself and vice versa.

So, if you’re sitting at the dinner table with your uncle whom you haven’t seen since last Thanksgiving, you may feel inclined to share information with each other. For instance, you ask him what he’s been up to since last year and learn that your uncle has finally retired and he’s since picked up a new hobby‚ gardening! You then tell your uncle all about your success at work and ask him for tips on your tomato plant you just can’t seem to keep the deer away from! Through this conversation, you are expanding the common ground in your relationship with your uncle‚ you are learning more about him and he is learning more about you. The JADIK Matrix is at play even at your Thanksgiving dinner!

The danger the JADIK Matrix forewarns us of is what can happen if we don’t continue to grow the common ground. If you weren’t having these exploratory conversations with your uncle at Thanksgiving every year, your relationship with him would atrophy to the point where you would feel like you barely know him. Although you may be connected by blood, you can’t take the familial relationship for granted. Feeling related to your uncle still requires work from you (and your uncle) to keep that relationship alive!

This tale of a Thanksgiving conversation with your uncle can be applied to your job as a sales professional. Think of all your clients with whom you have deep roots. Maybe they’ve been working with your company for years and you feel like they are part of the “family.” Have you been taking them for granted? Do you think that because they’re part of the family you’ll automatically have a relationship with them forever? Just as you won’t necessarily feel “related” to your uncle merely because you share blood, having years of business with a client doesn’t guarantee a long-term relationship with them. You must continue to cultivate that relationship and grow common ground with your customers regularly!

Even if you think you know everything there is to know about that customer and their business, there is always something else that you could learn. Regular exploratory conversations with your customer will ensure that your relationship never stagnates and will give you insight into that “something else” (what Carew calls the Blind Spot). This will help you to expand your common ground and potentially open the door for future opportunities.

Let this Thanksgiving be a reminder for us in the sales field to figuratively sit around the table with our clients and grow our relationships!

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