Anthony Iannarino is an international speaker, bestselling author, sales leader, and entrepreneur. He posts daily sales tips and insights to The Sales Blog.

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Of Course Selling Is About Relationships

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If selling is not about relationships, why then does your existing client call you to bring you in to help them when they take a new role at a new company? Is trust not a part of commercial relationships?

What underlies your ability to get access to your contacts that they universally deny other salespeople? Why do they give you time and deprive others?

If relationships are not a factor, why do you lose some deals to the incumbent supplier, even though you have a better offering? Why is it so difficult to displace an existing supplier, and why do so many of their contacts defend them—even when they perform poorly? What accounts for a contact’s desire to protect their under-performing supplier?

When you receive the call from your existing client to provide you the details of your competitor’s bid and to ask you to make the necessary adjustments to your offering, is this somehow evidence of the absence of a relationship? Is it an absence of a strong preference to work with you?

When your existing client refers you to a peer in another division or another company, was that done without any thought about you and your relationship? Are they recommending you because they don’t care about you? Are they suggesting the person they refer will find you to be adequate or acceptable?

Your client hands you a giant stack of your competitor’s sales collateral, their proposals, and the pricing. Why is it that they want you to have this competitive intelligence? Why wasn’t your collateral and proposal handed over with all but the one competitor’s content they prefer?

Be Careful and Think

You have to be very careful when you read ideas that propose that certain attributes, skills, or approaches are mutually exclusive.

The danger here as it pertains to relationships falls into two areas. First, in a world that is increasingly being pulled in two directions, super-transactional and super-relational, deciding to have a super-transactional approach when that is not your overarching business strategy is a dangerous game. If you need to be consultative, super-relational is a better choice.

Second, you can fall into the trap of believing that being smart means you don’t have to have all the other attributes, skills, and character traits that would cause people to prefer to work with you than with your competitor. You also have to deal with the definition of words.

If relationship means that I like you and you like me without also providing other value (economic, strategic, etc.), then what you are describing is a conflict-averse, order-taker, not commercial relationships, per se. By definition, the word “relationship” means “the way two things are connected. If relationship means that I know you, I like you, I trust you, and you create value for me beyond our enjoying each other’s company, then you might be getting closer to a modern commercial relationship.

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Filed under: Relationships

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