Sales Is, Was, and Always Will Be Relationships

The time to build relationships is before you need them. When you need those relationships, it’s too late to start building them.

Your dream client is unhappy and exploring options. You stopped calling on them because they were “cold,” and you wanted to work on “ready-to-buy,” “hot” leads. Now no one inside this company knows you. They have no idea as to the value you might create because you didn’t think they were important enough to deserve your time.

You’re excited about the RFP you just received. But no one knows you there, either. Yet it’s a lead, and you can drop it in your pipeline, so you answer 64 pages of questions. Why then don’t you continue to call on the people you met through this process for the next three years so you have the relationships you need when it comes back around?

The business came in fast. The client needed your help. So you skipped most of your sales process and all of your implementation process. You don’t really know anyone, and no one knows you. Now there’s a problem, and you’re taking it on the chin with no relief in sight.

You needed relationships.

The time to try to create value is before you attempt to claim value.

It’s late in the quarter. You need a deal. Badly. This prospect is engaged, and you are confident that they’re going to buy. But you need them to buy now, so you push for “the close” before you have done enough to have earned it, and now your prospect’s gone dark. You suspect the worst. Rightly so, you were a self-oriented taker, not someone who earned the right to make the ask.

Just like the example of nurturing cold prospects above, the time to create value is before you claim any. That’s what helps build these relationships.

The time to make deposits is before you need to make a withdrawal.

You need to have a difficult conversation with someone who works for you. You’ve ignored and neglected them for months. They feel that neglect. This conversation isn’t going to be pleasant under any circumstances. But in this case, the relationship will not survive the conversation because the withdrawal you are making is greater than the sum of your deposits, because you haven’t made any.

Relationships are investments. You are either an investor, or you are not. The greater your investment, the greater your return.

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Filed under: Sales

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