Would you sell your customer something he/she asked for, even though you know he/she would be better off going to another company? BCIT alumnus Travis Stevenson wouldn’t. And his dad didn’t.
“My father was a corporate sales manager for BC Tel [now TELUS],” says Travis, recalling when his father faced making a choice between closing a sale and putting a customer first. “He sent the customer to another company and things worked out fine. A short while later, that same customer returned to my father, awarding him with significantly more work than in their first interaction. They ended up working together for years. And it was because my father made that customer a priority over the sale.”
It may seem counter-intuitive. The goal of most businesses is to make money, after all. But Travis, founder and president of JTS Consulting, says the key to growing a successful business is to first focus on building relationships with people, who may become your customers, colleagues, mentors or friends. JTS Consulting helps utility companies around the world navigate technology to realize their business value.
“Utility companies face extraordinary challenges,” Travis explains. “Infrastructure is aging, customer expectations are evolving and technologies—like solar connections, smart grid technology, electric vehicles, smart home innovation—are constantly emerging. In order to prepare them for the changes ahead, we need to first establish a trusting relationship with them.”
BCIT’s Marketing Management (Professional Sales) program helped him sharpen the relationship-building skills he uses today.
“At BCIT, you have so many priorities pulling at you,” he says. “The tight timelines combined with a heavy workload and group projects mean you have to learn to build rapport and effectively communicate with people of different opinions and backgrounds if you want to succeed.”
Since Travis founded his firm 14 years ago, he and his team have helped organizations including BC Hydro, Fortis BC, IBM, Microsoft and Capgemini. In 2013, Business in Vancouver recognized him for outstanding business leadership with a Top 40 under 40 Award.
While attracting big-name companies across the globe as clients and winning accolades from industry are sure signs of success, Travis says it all comes back to his father’s story about the customer he sent away.
“For me, all of this is about genuinely connecting with people and doing the right thing by them,” says Travis. “When you put relationships first, the success will come.”