These days, one of the hot topics I frequently get asked about is relationship building. Since I have never been a formal salesperson, this might seem kinda strange to some. Business relationships, though — now that part is an area I have always done pretty good with.
It’s not that the whole relationship-building concept is new. Because it certainly is NOT. What’s driving it is these days is prospects, and customers have developed this ‘I’m not going to take it anymore’ attitude.
What exactly are they not going to take anymore? Stay with me.
We all have horrible opinions about car salespeople. YET, if we are honest, we’ll admit we rarely meet the old stereotypes of that industry. For the most part, they are made of the same decent, intelligent and courteous stuff we all are. And if we are honest, deep down, we admire the outstanding salespeople because so many of us would give our eye teeth to have their fantastic gift of the gab.
Now any of us can research the last 100 years or so of influential thinkers and find lots of titans talking about relationships first or relationships over profit. Earl Nightingale, Dale Carnegie, Zig Ziglar, Bob Proctor, Bob Burg. All expounded about building those relationships as key to a solid business.
As we have allowed technology to gain preeminence in our lives — especially over the last thirty years, it seems many of the principles have fallen by the wayside or even been lost. In the words of Joseph Priestley, “The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”
Communication begins with listening. So all those prospects you want to turn into customers and all those customers you would love to sell more to. Try this.
Listen. To. Them.
Because when you begin to see less and less of the good ones, and they frequently appear to be ‘outta here,’ here’s what they have decided they are not going to take any more:
• you don’t listen to them first before you offer stuff about yourself.
• you don’t take an interest in what they are doing or how they like to do things
• you don’t shelve your wants and needs for a while
• you treat them like their research doesn’t matter,
• you don’t put your products and services into terms that they understand will turn a part of their life around,
• if you don’t focus on them, their lives, and their problems
• if you don’t start from a place of service or friendship or something other than making money
What does work?
Remove your mask and be yourself.
See them as fellow human beings.
Always offer to be of service to them — especially in other areas besides the one you want to peddle.
Settle in for the long term.
Friendships take time because trust takes time. Yet friendships and trust are powerful bonds. In other words, you are playing the long game. It will take as long as it takes.
So how best to begin those business relationships?
Always remember, people, tell you who they are very quickly if you’re willing to listen to what they say and pay attention to how they behave. Engage in honest, open conversation and heartfelt communication. That is the way to open things up.
Then, you can tell how easily you can form a relationship bond with them in very short order.
The law of thirds fits the business relationship model just as well as it fits other business aspects. 1/3 of the audience will always love us. 1/3 of the audience will never love us. And 1/3 are indifferent.
We should never waste time on the 1/3 that will never love us. Forget them. We play to the indifferent audience to try to move them to like us, and we cater slavishly to the 1/3 that loves us.
Only when the feeling is ‘right’ do we begin to develop a level of trust. And the best part is you will know when it feels right.