“A real conversation always contains an invitation. You are inviting another person to reveal herself or himself to you, to tell you who they are or what they want.”
Are you building relationships or are you building transactions?
Are the conversations you’re having with your clients transactional in nature? If so, I am here to inform you, you will be become replaceable.
Tough pill to swallow but transactional selling is replaceable by another salesperson who comes along with a better transactional conversation.
You are a transactional seller when you….
- All you are concerned with and care about is the business at hand.
- Stay so hyper-focused on finalizing the sale that you forget there is another human on the other side.
- Fail to be fully aware and present as to the potential in the relationship. This means a true understanding of the goals, needs, gaps, values, fears and potential risk of your clients or future clients.
It is extremely difficult to build relational strength with your clients with a transactional mindset. These so-called relationships are unfulfilling and lack real strength. They lack real strength because they lack any kind of real depth.
It’s concerning, in today’s society and business climate, we tend to have shallow, superficial relationships; as we have lulled ourselves into thinking they are much more than they really are.
It’s extremely hard for this kind of relationship to provide anything more than faint satisfaction and short-term results.
Are you inviting your clients into meaningful conversations or pushing them away with transactional behaviors and conversations?
DEEP CONVERSATIONS REQUIRE INTENT AND MEANING
“Our culture is all about shallow relationships. But that doesn’t mean we should stop looking each other in the eye and having deep conversations.”
Curious to know… Are you brave enough to share, kind enough to listen, and can you break-free from the shallows of small talk to dive deep into conversations with your clients?
Are you treading water, floating along the relational surface with your clients? Would you even know?
Are your conversations superficial, shallow and small or rich with deep meaning?
Psychologist Matthias Mehl at the University of Arizona studies conversations, and he defines small talk based on how much information is exchanged. “If afterwards I know nothing more about you than I knew before, then that will be small talk.”
Let’s think about this in the context of your client conversations, what are you learning about your clients and their business during each of your interactions?
There is value in small talk, but it still falls short of what many of your clients might be craving – meaningful conversation.
Matthias Mehl, refers to these kinds of conversations as “substantive”, the key feature of deeper conversations is that you learn something.
This goes back to my point…
What are you learning about your clients and their business during your interactions?
He further states,
“If people start discussing information, then it becomes substantive … the most important point is that you get absorbed in the conversation, there’s information, there’s learning.”
Just curious, what do all of you speak about when engaging with your clients?
Again, are you treading on the relational surface with small “chit-chatty” conversations or are you swimming in the business deep end, diving into conversational growth strategies?
You see, salespeople in superficial and shallow relationships with their clients will only talk about the present day because “future proofing” requires a deep investment of time, energy and commitment to relational betterment.
A relationship is shallow when it only exists on the surface and absent of any meaningful emotional connection.
Here is your mirror moment…
Are you a here and now sales rep or a forward-thinking sales professional?
Questions for you… And I really want you to think about them.
- Why do many salespeople have mediocre at best client relationships?
- Why do many salespeople struggle to form meaningful client relationships?
My response, because many salespeople can’t be bothered to learn how or have never been coached in building real relationships.
Here are signs you may have shallow client relationships…
- Lack of communication
- No discussions on the business future and what it looks like
- Lack of shared values
- Out of sight, out of mind
- Only meet in a sales opportunity or when an issue arises
Have you ever asked your clients what they expect in a relationship with you? Not your company but with just you?
If the answer is no, then I strongly encourage you to ask, as you just might learn something that could remove the shackles holding you back from “next level” sales.
DEEP CONVERSATIONS CREATE CONNECTION
“Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.”
Your big picture are your clients. Are you focused on connecting with your clients? Are you committed to deep, rich and meaningful conversations?
I love what Nicholas Epley, PhD, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business says when it comes to connecting,
“Connecting with others in meaningful ways tends to make people happier, and yet people also seem reluctant to engage in deeper and more meaningful conversation.”
He went on to further state,
“If connecting with others in deep and meaningful ways increases well-being, then why aren’t people doing it more often in daily life?”
Applied to the sales community,
If connecting with your clients in deep and meaningful ways increases well-being and your sales funnel, then why aren’t salespeople doing it more often?
Whether you are a sales leader or a salesperson, I urge you to get engaged with your clients.
You must shift your mindset, and refocus your thoughts as engaged relationships translate to an increase in sales opportunities.
Build true, deep and meaningful relationships, not just one-sided affairs and watch your sales skyrocket and your leaky sales pipeline become ever-flowing.
If you crave an ever-flowing sales funnel, then build an ever-flowing client relationship funnel
Here are three things you can do to build relational strength with your clients.
BRING AUTHENTICITY TO THE FOREFRONT
Your client relationships must be built upon trust and trust is based upon authenticity. Your clients B.S. meters are extremely sensitive, as they can spot insincerity, and commission driven conversations.
The authentic YOU must be a genuine reflection of who you REALLY are. You must believe it. You must own it. You must know what it stands for. You must know your strengths and your weaknesses. You must be congruent with it.
Sales professionals proudly wear their emotions on their business sleeve as they connect to the relational hearts of their clients
It’s about the personal connection. If you are ‘blowing smoke’ up your client’s backsides what’s the likelihood, they will trust you or even help you to grow your business?
Authenticity is a magnet in a world full of empty suits
Expanding upon your relationships – it’s about establishing trust, credibility, and creating meaningful value; all without selling.
Engage your clients, communicate with them, add substantive value to their business, solve their problems, create opportunity for them, educate them, but don’t be dropping the sales hammer on them all the time!
Stale sales experiences and relationships die a slow and very painful death.
What concerns me about salespeople and sales leaders today, whether you believe me or not, is the lack of a true understanding around what it means to build genuine relationships.
Stop begging and bugging your clients to buy from you at month end, quarter end or year end, when you’ve done very little to enhance the relational experience.
Why would your clients help you to grow your business when you haven’t helped to grow theirs?
LISTEN TO THEM
Successful sales professionals simply listen.
There is so much you can learn when you just listen
Intentional and focused listening is the key to becoming a powerful sales professional inside the relationship economy.
Developing excellent listening skills separates the good from the great. When you listen to your clients you learn things, their business goals, their personal aspirations; all this to do one thing – strengthen the relationship and grow your business.
When you struggle to listen, you miss all the critical material to build a meaningful relationship.
The simple act of listening is one huge key to growing your business, strengthening your sales pipeline and enhancing the relational growth with your clients.
YOU MUST CARE ABOUT YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
“I’m not telling you it is going to be easy- I am telling you it is going to be worth it.”
Building client relationships requires discipline. Are you committed?
Long-term client relationships, and I know that is what you want, must be deep and must be built to weather the storms. There will be bumps and some choppy waters, however; the more you invest in these relationships the more you collect on these relationships.
I will leave all of you with this…
- Genuinely care about your clients
- Remember your clients
- Connect with your clients
- Celebrate with your clients
- Respect your clients
- Deliver on your promises with your clients
And most of all… Love your clients. Because if you don’t, I guarantee there will be a Selling from the Heart sales professional to gladly step right in.
Originally published on Larry Levine’s LinkedIn.