Is it about Selling or about Relationships?
Making a sale without establishing a trusting relationship is what vending machines do. No humans required.
Building a relationship without making a sale is what we call a social friendship. No profit created.
Businesses and individual professionals must earn and receive a profit if they are to sustain their endeavors. We can’t spend time and resources indefinitely without receiving a return. How long can you afford to keep going without making some money?
A popular myth is that by just helping enough people we will sooner or later receive our rewards. That’s somewhat true, but the rewards may be only intangible ones: satisfaction, warm feelings, etc.
Relationship Selling™ is a form of Selling, not merely a type of relationship. The purpose of it is to help other people at a profit to you. When you are truly helping, you deserve to be well compensated for your product or service.
For many years, I was the sales coach to a group of 19 life insurance agents. In our office, there was a large bell like a ship’s bell, and whenever an agent made a sale they were encouraged to ring the bell. Those nearby would stop momentarily and congratulate the sales person. It made things fun and encouraged more “bell ringers.”
One day an agent rang the bell and we walked over to shake his hand. When I asked where the papers were to consummate the sale he said, “Oh, I don’t have the contract or check yet. But the client said Yes and he’ll be buying this week.” At that point, everyone’s smile faded and we informed the new agent that celebration was not in order until there was an actual completed sale. The agent had assumed that his main job was getting people to say Yes. In fact, his main job was gaining people’s commitment to buy so that we could then commit to providing the insurance coverage they desired. If there is no confirmed purchase then it’s just a social relationship. First, we make the sale and then we deepen the relationship.
What, then, is a Relationship?
It is a direct connection between people in which Value is exchanged.
The value in Selling is usually money and products or services. In social or personal relationships, the value is often love, support, encouragement and friendship. Relationship Selling™ calls for the formation of “Business Friendships.” That is a friendship in which the underlying assumption is that value is being delivered in both directions: services and payments. Without the transactions, the nature of the relationship changes from business to social.
Value, in this sense, is whatever the person receives that he or she considers valuable. In other words, you and I cannot determine on our own what is valuable to someone else. Only they can determine whether it matters to them. That’s why listening and empathy are so important in selling. We must learn to discern what they care about and how they’d like to be served or sold to.
This allows us to become more intelligent about others. By noticing more about them and their needs and wants we will know more about the best ways to appeal to them and serve them. Intelligence in any subject depends on noticing the patterns and discovering the principles that drive them. In science, music, mathematics or even sports, the better we see and understand the fundamental patterns at work the more we can understand the principles. For example; in Physics, there are universal truths and patterns that apply to all things. “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” Newton. In music, there are only 12 notes in all compositions and they relate to each other in known ways. In every golf swing, the components are the same. You see what I mean. The same is true in selling.
It is also true that organizations have important patterns and principles at work. An organization of any type is fundamentally: a group of people who are working on a common cause. All the buildings, products, files, contracts, locations and technologies are merely tools that help the group to advance the cause. Even the brand is meaningless if there isn’t a group of productive people behind it.
Organizations have two vital systems: A Growth System (sales & marketing) that reaches outward toward opportunity, and a Strength System (skills, tools & technology) that reaches toward the necessary resources. If resources are scarce then growth will have to stop. If growth is inadequate then the resource costs will destroy the organization. Make sense? It is like a tree. There must be a strong root system for strength and stability. There must also be a strong growth system of branches and leaves to reach for the sunlight and rain.
The purpose of all of this is for the organism (organization) to thrive and bear fruit (profits). The genetic code of an organization, its DNA, is the mission, vision, values and goals that make it worthwhile. Disney’s DNA is to be “The Happiest Place on Earth”. Cathcart Institute’s DNA is to “Help People Succeed and Live Abundantly.” What is yours? When the people embrace your organization’s DNA then they feel like family and contribute to growth. When they do not, then it quickly becomes evident that they are an outsider or non-contributor. That is why a leader’s first job is to get everyone to embrace the purpose and goals of the organization. (Relationships.) Their next job is to achieve it, through everyone’s profitable and productive contributions. (Sales.) If the sales job isn’t achieved then the relationships will quickly fall apart and the organization will no longer exist.
Your entire life is a series of relationships. When you change who, why or how you connect with people you simultaneously change your life. Therefore, you should be as Intentional as possible in the formation and cultivation of your relationships. Choose well who you will spend time with and who you will avoid.
Everyone has an “Inner Circle” or “Success Team” of people with whom they are in contact on a regular basis. Some of them are situationally connected with you because of where they work or what they do, while others are intentionally connected via friendships, partnerships, or vendor relationships. The more Intentional your relationships are, the more successful your life tends to be. Choose your friends and providers wisely.
Your Success Team is the group of between 3 and 12 people through whom you accomplish your results at work and at home. These are the people who, if they left, you would need to replace them. That’s why your connection with them matters so much.
We recommend that you examine the Mix, the Nature and the Quality of your primary relationships using the “3 Essentials for a Healthy Relationship.” The 3 Essentials come from the field of marriage counselling, Dr. David & Vera Mace of A.C.M.E. and they apply directly to business relationships too.
- Both parties must become committed to the success of the relationship.
- Communication must be open so that truth, the good and bad news, flows freely.
- Agreements and expectations must be clear on both sides.
When you achieve all 3 essentials in all your Inner Circle relationships then you vastly expand your power and potential for achievement.
Being more intelligent and intentional about your relationships puts you in a powerful position vs your competition. The more you can improve the ways you think about and behave toward yourself and others, the more success potential you will gain.
They say, “It’s not what you know but who you know that counts.” I disagree. I say, “It’s who is glad that they know you. That’s what really counts.” Once another person is glad that they know you, the “contact” or “connection” evolves into a Relationship Asset. Make It your goal to find ways to cause everyone you’re connected with to be glad that they know you. Learn what they value and give so much value to them that they’ll never want to change providers nor lose their connection with you.
The truest form of Relationship Selling™ is giving so much value that others always feel they are underpaying you, even at full retail. Make your services and products feel like such a bargain that people look for others to tell about their good fortune of being able to deal with you.
Then you will truly live abundantly and so will they.
Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE is the original author of “Relationship Selling, the Eight Competencies of Top Sales Producers.” He was inducted into the Sales & Marketing Hall of Fame in London, England and the Professional Speakers Hall of Fame in the USA. Jim’s TEDx video, “How to Believe in Yourself” has received over one million views. You may reach Jim and many free resources through his website: Cathcart.com.
Relationship Selling from a visual listener’s view.