Last week, luxury Swiss watchmaker Tag Heurer became the latest corporate sponsor to announce that they were ending their relationship with golfer Tiger Woods after 10 years. They join other major corporations such as AT&T, Gillette, Gatorade and Accenture. Since Tiger’s infamous Thanksgiving “car accident” which spiraled his career and personal life into a public circus, it is estimated that he has lost between $40 and $50 Million in endorsement deals. There is even talk of him struggling to meet his financial obligations at this point.
What I found very interesting was the statement released by Tag Heurer when they announced the end of the relationship with Tiger. The Company’s Chief Executive, Jean-Christopher Babin was quoted as saying “We are confident that Tiger will eventually regain full trust with the public, and that his huge talent and mental strength will help him overcome his difficulties.”
It occurred to me that all of the scandal, embarrassment, negative press, sensationalism, etc. are byproducts of the real reason these companies are no longer doing business with Tiger Woods…TRUST. The reason corporate America pays enormous endorsement fees to athletes and celebrities is because they feel that the person endorsing their product or service has the trust and admiration of the public. They want their brand to be directly related to that trust and admiration and they are willing to pay serious money for it.
So what does this have to do with Commercial Real Estate Brokerage you ask? Think about why our client’s choose to hire us for any assignment. On some level, it is because they trust that we will produce the outcome they wish to achieve. They trust our integrity. They trust our methodology and they trust that we have the capability to advise them on the course of action that is in their best interests. Sales skills, marketing plans, track record, etc. are all byproducts of the overriding reason our clients choose us over any other commercial real estate agent or broker…TRUST.
Charlie Green, co-author of the book “The Trusted Advisor” & “Trust Based Selling” wrote “Trusted relationships are hard dollar assets masquerading as soft skill capabilities. Trusted relationships carry economic consequences well beyond those of loyalty, customer retention and traditional scale advantages” (such as features and price).
Longevity in the commercial real estate brokerage industry is achieved based on the number of relationships you build where you are seen by your clients as a trusted advisor. If every action you take in servicing your clients comes from a foundation designed to build a trusted relationship, the income will inevitably follow and over time will become exponential to your efforts. Just talk to the most successful people in commercial real estate (or any service industry for that matter) and ask them about their longest client relationships. To quote Charlie Green again who said it best….”Trust is the only genuinely sustainable competitive advantage.”
The flip side is also true. The surest way to lose business is to act in a way that erodes the trust of the people you service. If trust is lost, your sales skills don’t matter, your marketing prowess doesn’t matter, your past deals don’t matter. No matter how good you think you are, people won’t do business with someone they don’t trust or whom they do not believe in. Ask Tiger Woods.