Define the Relationship

Spencer Adams
3 min readMar 2, 2022


The other day I was cleaning the dishes after a lovely dinner of homemade meatballs with spaghetti and a glass of crisp red wine, bon appétit. While performing my tedious nightly ritual of dish duty, I am being peppered with questions from my 5-year-old sitting next to me:

  • Where does soap come from?
  • how do bubbles form?
  • where does wood come from?
  • what is water made of? what about wine?
  • my personal favorite…is ice water or is water ice?

My 5-year-old is on a quest for knowledge, and I love it! I don’t have good answers for everything, but I love the motivation behind her zest to learn more about the world around her. I know I am not alone in these daily interrogations, and I quite enjoy them when not trying to host a conference call at the same time. If I put myself in her shoes, everything is new to her and she is curious about these new shiny objects. It’s can be quite comical the things that “her mind” tells her (her words, not mine). Again, I love the underlying motivation behind her questions. She is curious and inquisitive with the purpose to be self-sufficient and able to accomplish more in life.

This curiosity did not “kill the cat,” rather expanded her ability to grasp concepts and entertain. This curiosity is what we can CSM’s should use as a foundation for our relationships with our Customers, with our Business Partners, with our Global Systems Integrators, with our Kyndryl. I call this phase “Define the relationship” or “DTR,” for short. Until we ask questions, we haven’t defined the relationship. Are we dating, are we courting, or is this a one-night stand? The questions we ask should progress the business toward a forward-thinking goal…together.

Some of the questions I like to ask:

  • Why are you with IBM Cloud?
  • What is being accomplished on top of IBM Cloud?
  • What business objectives are you solving with your IKS/VMWare/BareMetal workload?
  • Who is involved in this project? Who was involved? Who made the decision to use IBM Cloud?
  • How long do you plan to use this solution?
  • What goals does the end-user have for the solution?

Continued questioning can be a rabbit hole of information, and it starts with the initial question. Ask the initial question and see where it goes. We’ve been through a transition in January and many have new accounts. This is a great opportunity to say to the sponsor, “Hi Joe, do you mind if I put 30 minutes on our calendar to get to know one another a little better and dive into some specific questions…” The worst they’d say is no…and then you know where they stand. I’ve heard numerous times that we are blocked from interacting with the client, then why not ask the questions of those blocking us and see if they have an idea of where the relationship is going. We desire for a transparent relationship. I’d much prefer to know where I stand with a relationship than assume I know and be blindsided later down the road. Ignorance is not bliss in this case. Let’s define the relationship, sooner rather than later. Let’s ask questions and see where it leads us.

Be curious. Be inquisitive. Work together.



Spencer Adams

Puppet string master, member of the cloud counsel. Protector of the CSM relm, advocate of client peasantry