“Drainage! Drainage, Eli, you boy! Drained dry! I’m so sorry. Here: if you have a milkshake, and I have a milkshake, and I have a straw — There it is. That’s a straw, see? Watch it — my straw reaches across the room, and starts to drink your milkshake, I drink your milkshake! I drink it up!”
Daniel Day-Lewis, There Will Be Blood, 2007
Daniel Day-Lewis won the 2008 Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal ruthless fictional oilman Daniel Plainview.
Plainview bought up oil leases cheaply from property owners across Southern California during a late 19th and early 20th century oil boom. When a hold-out property owner finally comes to Plainview begging to sell, he delivers his famous speech. The property owner’s oil is long gone, gloats Plainview: “I drink your milkshake!”
Has someone got their straw in your milkshake? Here are some things to think about to help you protect the value of your rep firm.
- Most principals would say that the value of your rep firm is your customer relationships. Do you only have relationships with today’s decision-makers? Or have you also built relationships with junior staff who will probably be the decision-makers in the future?
- Principals also value your rep firm for your deep market knowledge of your territory. Do you continue to prospect for and build new relationships with new customers? Or have you become comfortable with orders you can secure from customers you already know well?
- Are there services that your customers or principals need and other reps in your territory supply that you have been reluctant to supply?
- When you start to think about selling your rep firm, the prospective buyer will value your firm more highly if you have deep relationships at all levels with your most important principals. Do you visit key principals periodically to build those relationships?
If a few key players at your customers retire, will your orders be in jeopardy? If a few key players at your principals retire, are you at risk to lose the line?
Whether you see it or not, there is always someone nearby, looking in your direction, holding a straw. To maintain the value of your rep firm, you must remain vigilant and keep their straw out of your milkshake.