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Do We Stink?

By Joey Havens

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As CeCe (my wife, Cathy) and I were checking our luggage curbside at the airport, she commented that someone had on too much perfume. In complete transparency, we are both very sensitive to strong fragrances.

I really didn’t think much about her comment as I had not noticed a strong fragrance. As we were getting ready to board our flight (boarding last, of course), we were the last two passengers walking down the jetway. About halfway down, CeCe said, “that person with the fragrance is on this flight. Gosh, I hope they are not sitting close to us!” I giggled but still had not noticed a strong fragrance. 

I was excited because we were on the exit row and I was going to have plenty of leg room. But after I stowed away our carry-ons and sat down next to CeCe, I glanced over to see a funny look on her face.

CeCe: It’s you! You are the one I’m smelling!

Me: What?

CeCe: It’s you! Did you use that shampoo in the room after I told you it is full of strong perfume?

Me: No, I used what I brought with me.

CeCe: Well, I smell it. Did you use the lotion?

Me: Well, my skin dries out when we are out west and I did use a little bit of lotion this morning.

CeCe: Didn’t you realize it has the same perfume in it? I’m not sure I can sit by you!

All of the wonderful leg room in the exit row suddenly seemed a little cramped. We laugh about it now, but that flight home was long and smelly.

I believe that our clients have a similar reaction when we attempt to “cross-sell.” We reek of what we do and how great we are. This is also noted in research by Heidi K. Gardner in her book, Smart Collaboration. Even clients that love our service and those with whom we have strong relationships resist and even resent being introduced to cross-selling opportunities.

We get a completely different reaction, however, when our approach is filled with education, insights and probing questions focused on our client and their needs.

When we are focused on “How can we serve you better?” we will have the opportunity to expand services and solutions to our clients. It’s not a stinky introduction to another expert in our firm, but instead, built around a conversation that is serving our clients with solutions that make them #beEvenBetter.

By the way, I was required to shower as soon as we got home. Our takeaway here might be to wash away cross-selling initiatives and put on team collaboration focused on our clients’ needs and wants. An application that can elevate our client experience and grow our business, too.