Hello SOTGC community,
I was driving away from an account I’ve had for a few years and smiling at the events of that morning when the idea for this post came about. For those of you in sales…I think you’ll follow along and laugh to this post. To those of you not in sales…I think there are still some parallels and pearls you can draw for whatever industry or job you are in. As I look back on my years in sales, of opening new territories, of building a reputation in a cut throat industry, of learning from my mistakes, and being grateful for the mentors I’ve had along the way, the more I see how close it is to dating. At the end of the day, whether you’re in sales or not, you’re building a relationship (hopefully long standing) with your client, co-workers, senior staff, and even your competition. Below are the similarities I see between the delicate dance of sales…and the even more delicate dance of dating.
- The slower you go…the better the foundation: In sales…we have quotas and unfortunately most of the time we are not measured by the manner in which we are building up our territory…we are simply judged on the numbers we bring in. In my career I have found that the slower I move with a new account, new surgeon, new stakeholder, new office, in the beginning, the better my relationship with those clients is in the long run. No one wants to feel like they are a number or simply a revenue post in your ever growing quota…and the only way you can prove this is to ease off on the pressure, build a solid foundation of trust, and move at a comfortable pace for both sides. Same goes for dating, the healthiest and most rewarding relationships I’ve ever had started out with us being friends, and grew into something more.
- Trust…no relationship can last without a solid basis of trust: Due to some bad seeds that are mixed in with a LOT of good ones, sales people are usually looked on with mistrust and suspicion when they first enter a new account/office/client/etc. Everyone at some point in their life (even sales people) have been burnt by a greedy rep and therefore are immediately “on guard” when first dealing with a new sales person. Same like when you’re dating someone at first, we’ve all been burnt by a bad relationship in the past so when starting out with someone new, trust has to grow for the budding romance to go anywhere meaningful. By proving over and over that you are true to your word, that you value morals and ethics (and display them), you will be able to build this foundation of trust which will carry over into other jobs you have and will make your job a LOT easier in the future because of this mutual trust. I know it sounds funny to say this, but I expect my accounts and clients to prove that I can trust them, just as much as I know they value having trust in me…yup…two way street.
- Communication…over communicating is better than miscommunication or simply NO communication: No matter how good your relationship is, no matter how much trust exists between the two of you, there will always be moments where communication falters. I’m not saying you need to confirm something by leaving a voicemail, then sending an email, and a text, and a carrier pigeon…I’m just saying if you have doubts about the meaning of a message…it’s always better to confirm proper understanding than to assume and be wrong. I had an instance of this just this week. I mis-understood the message in an email, which led me to almost completely miss a meeting. Luckily I showed up near the end, we figured out where the breakdown in communication happened, we both heartily apologized for our mis-understanding of the message, and because of the trust I had built with this account, I was greeted with hugs and “HOW ARE YOU?! We miss you!!!” from the staff.
- Absence makes the heart grow fonder: Just like in dating…giving each other space is always a good thing. If you walk into your accounts and people greet you with hugs and exclamations of “we miss you” (and if you’re from corporate and reading this post…this happens even if it’s only been a couple weeks since I’ve been in the account) that’s ALWAYS preferable to hearing “Jeez! She’s like the Cable Guy (referencing the Jim Carrey movie from the 90s)” Hearing that you are missed means that your presence is desired, when you’re around you are truly enjoyed, and you give your accounts (or the person you’re dating) enough time without you, to actually miss your presence and be excited to see you again.
- Have fun…no one likes a Debbie Downer and no one wants to date a “glass is half empty” person: Life is way too long, and way too much happens to take things seriously all the time and never have fun. I’m definitely not saying you should be joking around all the time. There are ABSOLUTELY times when professionalism and seriousness are mandatory (especially if you’re dealing with patient outcomes…or having a serious talk with your significant other), but when you’re not in that direct moment of solemnity, have fun, BE fun to be around, be able to laugh at yourself and put smiles on people’s faces.
- Lastly…break up with dignity…and leave things on a good note: You will find that the world is VERY small once you’ve been around for more than 20 something years. When dating, if you have a horrendous breakup where notes are left on cars or voice mails or texts are sent off at inappropriate hours of the night, you MAY find somewhere down the road that you will be dating someone you’re VERY interested in…who happens to be good friends or co-worker with the person you mailed ripped up pictures to, or shot off drunken and crazy texts to at 3 AM on a weekend. Same with business. I could probably make two phone calls and find someone who knows someone who is in the industry for a reference if they are interviewing with us. The way they left their company, or their behavior while on the way out will speak volumes about their character…and will probably even weigh more heavily than a stellar revenue record.
So there it is, a lasting relationship comes from a slow start and solid foundation.