Business relationships can be either transactional or relational, and can be non-sticky, good-sticky, or bad-sticky — and you want to embrace good-sticky and avoid bad-sticky.
In a business relationship, what does it mean to be sticky? It tells you if it’s easy or hard to give up this vendor and go with another one.
If it’s easy to give up one for another, that’s transactional and non-sticky. It’s like picking a gas station — as long as there are at least two of them nearby, you can pick either one with equal comfort.
If it’s hard to give up one for another, that’s relational and non-sticky. If you tried to give up your QWERTY keyboard for a DVORAK keyboard, for example, or if you tried to switch accounting software, or children, or primary spoken languages — for most of us, these would be very tough or impossible. Sticky.
Sticky, however, comes in these two flavors, good and bad. When it comes to my kids, I’m glad I couldn’t conceive of swapping them out for new kids. That’s because we have a special relationship, and no new kids could take their places. When you’re glad to have the relationship, that’s good-sticky.
We all have business relationships that are good-sticky too — an excellent accountant, for example, who is always helping save us money. A great dentist who makes you comfortable and does great work fast. You could change – you just don’t want to.
And finally there’s the bad-sticky business relationships. The ones you’d like to change, yet you feel you can’t. The payroll service that you think will be too difficult to change. The accountant who confuses you. The old computer system that’s not compatible with anything else. Run away from these.
And when it comes to being in a business relationship, you want your customers to feel that good stickiness – they could change to someone else, they just don’t want to.