The ROI is Always in the Relationship!

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How comfortable do you make your prospects feel?

My husband and I were discussing our workday over dinner on Friday. He shared with me an uncomfortable situation he had with an old school sales guy in his industry. My husband is a talented cabinetmaker and runs a bustling shop in Aurora.

Very often he has sales people who will stop by to try and catch him during the workday to sell trade products like lumber, sheet goods, hardware, shop supplies and tools. Most are pretty respectful of his time and like good sales people pick up on body language and mood when they enter the shop. They can tell if he’s busy working with his team figuring out a project or if he seems open to a discussion.

He’s had a few encounters with a certain sales rep who is pushy and insistent and often makes Simon feel uncomfortable with bold statements like “What can I do to have your business” as he glances around the shop with dollar signs in his eyes.

Even though my husband has told him on a number of occasions that he’s very happy and loyal to his existing supplier, this old school guy keeps pressing and pressing. You have to admire his persistence but his tactics are fruitless. My guess is that he’s barely scraping by with this kind of aggressive sales approach.

What would the conversation look like if instead he asked “What drives you nuts about our industry”? “What do you like most about working with your current vendor”? “I respect your existing vendor relationship however would you consider using us if your current vendor couldn’t pull through on an order for you”?

See how different that conversation would look and feel like? Chances are Simon would be more willing to sit down and talk rather than avoid the man like the plague!

My question to you is how comfortable do you make your prospects? Do you pick up on non-verbal cues like a rushed phone manner and ask if there’s a better time to speak? Do you arrive at a meeting and sense that the person is too distracted to meet that day and offer to reschedule? Or do you push through to make your point so you can count that sales activity for the week?

Trust and comfort are key components to great relationship marketing and sales. It is possible to earn someone’s business and woo them away from the competition. Do so with a humble and soft approach. Ditch the hard sell and awkward moments and pull information from your prospects in a non-threatening way. Build comfort and trust with genuine curiosity of what people really want and add more sales to your bottom line!

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Breaking up is never easy…


When it comes to any relationship whether business or personal, sometimes expectations or personalities just clash.

Sometimes it’s necessary to sever the relationship for the well-being of both parties.  Breaking up with a client can be awkward but sometimes necessary.  Think of the characteristics of a member, donor or client we’ll describe as a PITA (Pain in the !@#).

Let’s see if some of these traits ring true as you think of this individual.

They may be…

– Late for meetings – Exceedingly demanding of your time and energy – Expect excellent service and value but price-shop – Threaten to take their business, talents or donations elsewhere – Leave everything to the last minute – Are rude to you and your team members – Have unclear and unrealistic expectations – Perhaps they’re even abusive with their style of communication – Permit themselves 60, 90 or 120 day payment terms

I’ve only had a few circumstances over the past twelve years where I’ve had to “break up” with a client.  I think back ten years ago to a large client, their purchases attributed to the bulk of my annual sales at the time.  At a glance they appeared to be a great client by their sales volume, however there was a lack of respect and loyalty.  I had to re-evaluate the situation and let them go.  It was terrifying at the time but what I realized shortly after was that I had so much more energy and enthusiasm to share with the rest of my client-base. In fact, my sales actually GREW when they were no longer in the picture!

I had a similar situation while I was in a leadership role for a not-for-profit organization. Our group had a member who would consistently show up late to meetings, disregard the opinions of others around the table and was extremely demanding of the organization. After the team decided to “break up” with this member we had a surge of energy in the room, new ideas, new members join and quickly replaced his role with an outstanding contributor.

Breaking up IS sometimes hard to do but I encourage you to re-evaluate the worth of your business partnerships.  Think outside of the monetary realm, the commission, the volume of donations or influence of a board member.  Is the relationship serving your organization in a positive and mutually beneficial way?

Remember the value of your time, talents and energy that you bring to the table and don’t let your worth be sucked dry by a PITA. And for heaven’s sake don’t go out of your way to keep a PITA happy or they will refer you to their friends – other PITA’S!