Don’t Propose Marriage on the First Date!!!
Yesterday, I said “You have to sell first – prove yourself first – before you can hope to develop a relationship. Leading with the notion that you can build any sort of relationship from the outset, is hopelessly out of touch – but that is precisely what around 90% of front-line advisors and sales professionals are still trying to do.”
But be assured “relationship selling” is alive and well, and reports of its death have been wildly exaggerated.
I think in order to fully comprehend what I mean, you need to imagine a couple on a first date – think of this in sales terms as the “exploratory meeting”. The two have never met before, but they have both done their homework: They have asked friend’s opinions; they have checked out each other’s Facebook profiles; in fact they have conducted as much research as possible, so that when they finally sit down to eat, the conversation is flowing, and they discover considerable synergy. But this early attraction, and discovery of mutual interests and values in no way leads either of them to instantly think of marriage – the desire to grow the relationship is established, but they are not ready to open joint bank accounts!
Our client relationships are very similar to that scenario if you think about it: Trust, which is the basis of all symbiotic business partnerships, cannot be created overnight – it takes time. Don’t ever mistake lust for love!
You see, on day one of any new potential relationship, you are simply in the “Me too” bracket: Other advisors may be woo’ing your potential client; you have not yet had the opportunity to demonstrate and prove your uniqueness, let alone superiority.
If you are lucky enough to win that first element of trust, and your prospect engages you, now you’ve established your first foothold in this relationship – it is never more than that.
At this point, you work diligently to ensure that your clients needs are performed reliably, efficiently, and on time. Your aim here is to reach that next stage of the relationship where any lingering doubt that they made the right choice in selecting you as their advisor – their partner – was the right one. Your objective here is to fulfill that obligation of trust.
Finally, you reach the hallowed ground – if you’ve followed all the rules and techniques of engagement, and if you’ve continually worked to “earn the right”. You become the chosen one, and you enter the “Only me” territory. You now work with your client to define strategy; you are now not only a trusted advisor, but a long-term ally. You have a relationship, and both parties work very hard to maintain it, both aware of the costs of starting all over again from scratch – not unlike a marriage!
So in summary, I repeat, relationships take time to blossom and grow. There is no instant magic dust. But when a strong relationship is formed, it can provide rich benefits – including substantially increased profitability and stability for both your client and you.