In Italy a couple of years ago my wife volunteered my sketchy computer knowledge to an older guest who was struggling to connect to the wifi in our hotel. Two hours later, having hooked up his iPad, I was still listening to his life story in business.

A classic tale of risk taking at the start, deal making in the middle, and ears trained on customers all the way through.

At home, I tracked down a copy of his 1992 book, In Store Marketing, by Michael Wahl. Among the many pages I turned down was this line about building relationships with clients.

We asked ourselves two questions. What do they want from us as a supplier? How can we give it to them?

From a founder finding her focus to a key-account team diagnosing trouble, in the two years since I met Michael these two questions have always cut through the chatter.

Skippy Strategy: Got a customer who’s wobbling or a prospect who’s unsure? Ask your team, ask the customer.

Keeping Promises