We might be good at building relationships, but that doesn't mean we are good at building customer relationships. Unlike personal relationships, customer relationships have to be anchored in a business model. If a company bends too much to a customer's demands, it will become unprofitable, unfocused, and unsustainable.
In a recent interview, the productive tension of supporting customers while staying true to the company's purpose was displayed by the founders of the new LNG company Tellurian. Both the founding partners have decades of business success which show them how to navigate the currents of the marketplace.
I love the final emphasis on patience: if we fulfill what we promised, customers will rely on us.
Houston Business Journal: Meet LNG’s new dynamic duo: Charif Souki and Martin Houston, 2016-Apr-8 by Suzanne Edwards
What is the key to successful LNG marketing?
Houston: Credibility. It’s how you treat the customers. It’s a relationship business, and if there’s a routine that the customers have or process they want you to go through, you have to be mindful of that. One has to work it through with the customers and get them confident. They’re not paid to be risk-takers. They’re paid to bring consensus in their own organizations, and you have to help them do that. It can be a bit of a slow dance sometimes.
Souki: I have a different opinion than Martin on this one. Over the last six or seven years, I’ve come to realize something very important about our business. We provide what it takes to light up your homes and offices, heat up your homes, provide your fertilizer and do things that are absolutely essential for the growth of any one of our customers. So, ultimately, they don’t have a choice, which is why I always advise people to be patient. If you are sure you are the lowest-cost provider, they’ll have no choice. They will come to you.