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Relationship Selling and Bank Robbers

By Paul Johnson


If you sell a commodity, or a great service with really lousy marketing support, then relationship selling may be your only available sales strategy. The only thing you really have to set you apart from your competition is ... you.


Let's start with the bad news. Your prospects don't really need any more relationships. In their time-starved worlds, they can barely keep up with their families and the friends they already have. What makes you think they want another relationship, and with a salesperson at that?


Actually they do, but not just with anybody. And especially not with bank robbers.


Consider how banks work. They hold people's money for safekeeping. Imagine you walked into a bank and wanted to make a withdrawal. The first question you'd get is, "What's your account number?" Suppose you answered, "I don't have an account. Just give me the money!" I'm guessing they'd have you face down on the floor in about 12 seconds.


We know that banks expect us to make a deposit before we attempt to make a withdrawal. Relationships work the same way, yet many salespeople don't consider that. When we meet someone, we need to make a deposit to the relationship if we want the relationship to grow. Don't make a deposit, and the relationship will fade. Attempt to make a "withdrawal" BEFORE you make a deposit, and watch doors slam in your face.


The good news is people like having relationships with Givers, the people who make regular deposits to a relationship. Those that show up only when they want something (like a sale) are Takers, who are viewed much the same as a bank robber, even without the ski mask and bad handwriting.


A few years back, my wife Patti and I looked through our address book. We became frustrated with the names we never heard from. Oh, we'd hear from them -- when they needed a baby sitter for their kids, a donation for a fundraiser, or wanted to borrow something.


We decided to break the list into two groups: Givers, and Takers. Givers seemed willing to invest in our relationship, if only to send a Christmas card or call us occasionally to chat. Takers, on the other hand, seemed to prefer a one-way relationship. We wondered, "Do they care about us?" If the answer was "No" -- or, "I don't know" -- we labeled them Takers and crossed them out of our address book.


Your prospects are doing the same thing, if only subconsciously.


You already know how to be a Giver, but maybe you're just not doing it. Send your acquaintances clippings of articles that may interest them. Send THEM leads. Noodle on what THEY might need, and get it for them. Every time you call, make sure you deliver something of value in your message -- even if it's simply humor or encouragement -- and they'll actually look forward to hearing from you. Be a pleasant surprise in their day (we all get enough of the other kind). Spend some energy, and make those deposits.


Fill up your relationship accounts to overflowing, and watch the sales start flowing in. Soon you'll be making more deposits -- at your own bank.



© 2005 Paul Johnson. All rights reserved.


Note: This article is available for reprint at no charge. We only ask that you include our copyright notice in your reprint, along with the About the Author (byline) information we provide at the end of the article.


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