There are six levels of interaction between humans.
I was upgraded to first class on a flight from California to Atlanta. The guy beside me wanted to chat about as much as I did. So we sat for hours working on our laptops. When the flight attendant stopped by we'd exchange words for a few minutes, and then return to our screens.
During one of those intervals he gave me a stock tip. When I got home I did some research, made the purchase, and when all was said and done I was up about eight grand.
Here's the thing: I have no idea what his name was. If he walked into the room right now, I wouldn't recognize him. There is no way to thank him, refer to him, or do business with him.
He grazed me and . . . there is no financial benefit to him for that.
She's tall. With a penchant for animal prints. I see her, some years, at Susan Nolan's holiday party. We talk about cats. One year she loaned me her copy of the book Is Your Cat Crazy? The next year I didn't see her at the party. The next year I didn't go. Her name wasn't written in the book. I started to loan it to friends. Susan Nolan moved to Richmond. After six years, or maybe nine, I decided to give the book to the library.
And then, at Paula and Robert Charles' holiday party, we saw each other again. She recognized me. She said, "aren't you a friend of Susans?" I recognized the print on her jacket. I said, "OMG I've got your book in the trunk of my car!"
We haven't seen each other since. I still don't remember her name or have her phone number. Conceivably, if I really really really needed to get reach her I could call Susan, but . . . why?
At the Grin level people recognize each other. That's it. Recognition.. No business.
The statistic is that 40% of the time people who know us, and like us, and have had a good experience with us, miss referral opportunities for us, simply because they don't recognize it. A referral for you goes walking right in front of a Greet level friend, and instead of saying "hey, look, a referral," they think "armadillo." And there go dollars flying right out of your pockets.
It gets worse.
Greet level people acknowledge knowing us.
Here's how: they know us, right? So when someone say's "I'm thinking of doing business with Chris Smith." a Greet level acquaintance responds "I know Chris Smith."
Now if I said to you, "I know Chris Smith," your next question to me would be, "well, who do you think I should use?" Greet level people send referrals away from us. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Generators know us. They know our name. They have some stories about us. They know about our business. The money starts at Generator.
When a Generator hears "I'm thinking of doing business with Chris Smith" a Generator responds quickly, "I know Chris well. Chris is exactly who you want. Chris is terrific. In fact, I have to call him myself this afternoon -- do you want me to have him call you?"
Generators add a task list item -- the action to make the connection -- to their list. They don't do this because they have nothing else to do; they do it because they know the odds of us getting a new client are much higher if we take the action to reach out than if we wait for the prospect to make the call. They endorse us to the prospect and take action to close the triangle. Endorse with action. That's a Generator. That's profitable.
GateOpeners don't wait for a client to express a need. GateOpeners insert us into conversations with clients where they see we'd bring benefit.
GateOpeners know us very well. GateOpeners have been to each other's homes for dinner. Their husbands and wives know each other. Their kids play together. They've been on vacations together.
GateOpeners say, "Chris is great - we're playing golf Saturday, why don't you join us?
And, "You need to meet Chris. How about lunch Tuesday at Maggiano's?"
And "The next step for you is Chris. I'll bring him with me for our Friday appointment."
GateOpeners consider us an integral part of their own customer service. They know us, they trust us, they're comfortable sharing us. And GateOpeners are friends. They truly like us.
A Guardian will tell us when we have a behavior that doesn't support our own success.
A GateOpener won't - they don't want to hurt our feelings. They say, "Oh, that's just Kim. That's just how Kim is." A Generator won't - they're afraid we'll be angry. An acquaintance at the Grin level won't - they tell their clients to use someone else.
Only Guardians care enough about us to risk the relationship by telling us the hard thing. They're careful about it. They don't pile it on. They understand timing. They know us. And they care enough about us to tell. In our whole lives we're lucky to have one to five Guardians. We rarely have two at the same time, and often go for years without any.
When someone cares enough to share difficult information with you, say thank you.
Photo courtesy of Seongbin Im