Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Professional Relationships 101: Win-Win

My post about maintaining an open door to potential professional relationships last week created some good conversation. I'd like to extend that conversation this week into another key component to professional relationships: win-win.

I feel that win-win is the foundation to maintaining any relationship. I believe that no matter what the opportunities are for either party, each party much gain. Those gains are not always equal, but when there is a loser, the relationship begins to fail.

A Story

In meeting with a prospect this week, I got a great reminder of how powerful win-win can be. I was meeting with him to discuss some consulting services that I could offer his business based on marketing opportunities I had identified. Last week, I ran across the business name, did a little digging, and found a real need, so I knew there a genuine need for what I was selling. It would have been easy for me to head into the meeting with my sales hat on, tell him about my research, why my services were better, and brought out my closing lyrics. I probably could have sold him that way too, he had an obvious need.

Instead, the first thing I did was tell him that I wanted to get to know each other. As I had called for the meeting I went first, telling him about my background in finance and banking, why I had made the move to the marketing industry, and how much I enjoyed helping small businesses get their story out. I set the tone for that conversation with a very deliberate statement, "I want to let you know before we start that the most important part of my business is the relationships, I believe that when we understand each other best we can both win."

The rest of the conversation went wonderfully. We had honest conversation about his needs, current marketing plan, budget, and so forth. I'm confident in saying that we started a relationship that should easily last as long as we both stay in business.

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The important observation though, is that it started with the vision that we both could win. This is key to any relationship. You need communicate it both by your words and actions - that you aren't just looking for what you can get from this before moving on.

For you fellow salespeople, I believe the best way to add this component to your meetings is by taking a deep breath and starting this conversation the way I did above. You don't need to detract from the rest of your sales process, just to let the prospect know that you aren't another salesperson dropping in off the street hoping to get them to write a check. Rather you are a professional that both cares about them and has a product that may meet their needs.