Relationships Are Everything And Everyone Is A Salesperson (video)

I’ve been getting a lot of questions lately from people asking what ‘Strategic Relationship Management’ meant, referring to my line of work. In a nutshell, Strategic Relationship Management is the highest form of Selling – and Selling is the highest form of Leadership.

It is based on building mutually beneficial relationships essential to achieve specific objectives that add value and generate growth. Companies are run by people and the quality of their relationships drive business. Growing an accomplished organization or sustaining an already successful one depends on one’s ability to build relationships – and the best relationships are formed between people who like, respect, and trust each other.

So many people believe that selling is beneath them, because they don’t understand what it actually means. They associate sales with the dirty persuasion tricks applied in the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, or by used car salesmen or telemarketers– that’s not sales, that’s manipulation! I’m totally against these practices – in fact, I left two companies because I didn’t agree with their sales tactics and I didn’t want my name to be associated with that. To me, integrity is crucial.

Selling is the ability to influence someone else’s actions so that they willingly engage with you toward a win-win outcome – the emphasis being on win-win. If it’s not win-win – that is, both parties gaining genuine value from it, then it’s win-lose in the short term, turning into lose-lose in the long run. That’s why so many companies can’t keep their customers or employees, because their sales/recruitment tactics are focused on short-term gains where more often than not, the losing party is the customer/employee. Well, that comes back to haunt them in the end…

In the video below, Kerwin Rae – one of Australia’s leading business strategists – explains brilliantly what sales is all about:

A leader is someone who has mastered the ability to sell and influence others by building connections based on respect and trust. And when leaders walk away, so will their best people – I have seen this happening quite a few times throughout my career: employees following their managers when they change companies, customers moving their business someplace else just to deal with the same account manager, or switching to a different product brand just because the person they admire is using it – and the list goes on.

Strategic relationship management is based on high emotional intelligence and thorough understanding of human behavior – and knowing how to build rapport with people makes the difference between success and failure in the long run. When I left the organization that I was working for back in Romania to move to Canada, all my subordinates have willingly left the company, as well, in the following months. I was quite surprised at that time and couldn’t fully understand their decision – and so I reached out to them to find out the reason. Their response: “It just didn’t make sense any longer to work there without you”.

What I’ve realized is that most companies set the bar low when it comes to building and managing relationships with others and it shows during their annual evaluation by a decrease in productivity, employee/vendor/customer dissatisfaction, and consequently, revenue stagnation or loss. The relationships you have with your team will determine how loyal they are and how far they’ll go for you. The same goes for your suppliers and customers.

Great companies are run by leaders who inspire trust, respect, and admiration. Nowadays, when there are more options than ever, no one has to put up with a product or service that doesn’t meet their needs, or people whom they don’t respect. Loyalty is governed by how people feel about you, your company, and its products or services – and how people feel about something defines their relationship with it.

The way you position yourself at the beginning of a relationship has profound impact on where you end up. ~ Ron Karr

So what drives strong connections and relationships? Bringing value. People value things that relate and connect to what’s already important to them. The more someone or something meets your values the more important he/she/it becomes to you.

For example, let’s say that you’re interviewing with a company that you’d like to work for and they value people with an entrepreneurial spirit, who show initiative, and have great communication skills. When you’re asked the question: “Why should we hire you?” the most effective way to respond is to talk in terms of the other person’s interests by offering examples of how these personal attributes have made a difference throughout your career. At that point you are selling yourself to the interviewer and if you speak from the heart and you’re true to yourself and to them, chances are they’ll be motivated to hire you, because the value you provide enhances something that is also important to them.

If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. ~  Zig Ziglar

However, in order to create value that’s of high worth and importance, you need to clearly define what you bring to the table, what problems you can solve, and who would be interested in what you have to offer. Once you’ve answered these questions, the next step is to start researching your target companies beforehand and finding out everything there is to know about them and their leaders. If you can identify what’s important to them and learn that it also aligns with what you’re looking for, then you will be well on your way to creating value and generating growth.

So there you have it. The example above was related to career, but the same strategy of building strategic relationships and bringing value can be applied in all areas of life – and the more you work at mastering it, the better your results. No matter how you look at it, Strategic Relationship Management, Sales, and Leadership make all the difference—they always have, and they always will.

All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust. ~ Bob Burg

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