“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
I recently returned from a week on the road visiting some of my top partners. Every month or so I get out of the office and have face-to-face interactions at the businesses I have the privilege of helping. Often I am thanking them for their business and loyalty, reviewing accomplishments from the past year and planning goals for the next 1 - 3 years. I’ve found these meetings give both the business leaders and account managers the room to gain perspective on our relationship. That is what happened at my latest meeting, and the quote, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now,” is something that has been ringing through my head ever since.
Here’s what happened. We were going through the Four Helpful Lists (see Lori’s blog” Four Questions That Will Take Your Customer Relationships to the Next Level) and he said “We should have started working with you all when you first called us.” What a great thing to hear! A smile spread over my face as I reflected back to that time nine years ago. I was a Portfolio Manager (collections), and my good friend Derek was pouring his heart and soul into bringing on their partnership. He was tenacious in sharing the impact we could be making.
A year and a half into marketing our message finally resonated with them. The benefits were immediate but seven years after the first customer was on the books, they are still reaping the rewards. During this recent meeting they reflected on the impact we could have had if we were working together sooner.
What’s the lesson here? Although you cannot go back in time and say yes to missed opportunities, you can say “yes” today. Technology and buying patterns are zipping along at lightning speeds. There is no better time than today to pivot your business to better meet the new demands of customers.
The time is now to be open to a different way of thinking. The day is today to stop running on autopilot or be “too busy” when you get a call, an email, a message, etc. Take time to really consider what you could be missing out on. Plant the tree today and enjoy the shade years from now!
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