Image Credit: Norman Rockwell
Do You Sell Yourself (And Others) Short?
I am often asked by prospective customers to compare and contrast my services with other providers to help them judge my company's suitability to address their needs. At these times, I openly share with prospects the types of challenges I am best able to address, and those where my competitors may be a better choice. Is it crazy for me to do this? I don't think so. I am helping to ensure their satisfaction by suggesting the best solution for their needs.
As the above example reflects, sometimes it isn't necessary to build strong and mutually beneficial relationships in order to satisfy particular needs. However, I have found that most productive, mutually satisfying and enduring business and personal relationships occur when we commit ourselves to establishing trust and credibility.
When we do this, we relax a bit and focus on shared interest and benefit rather than being wary and suspicious. While I personally may not fully relate to the depiction in a television commercial of a couple's insurance agent being an invited guest at their daughter's wedding, it is not at all unrealistic to think that this does occur. Further, I believe it mostly accurately depicts the difference in how a customer views a trusted colleague or advisor versus one of many indistinguishable vendors.
When parties are no longer at arm's length, they are far more willing to share information, offer and take constructive suggestions and make decisive and even risky decisions, than when trust has not yet been earned. Think about how most of us react to a cold telephone solicitation or a door-to-door salesman. We focus primarily on protecting ourselves (and our wallets) from the unknown outsider.
In contrast, when we deal with an individual with whom there is a "connection", we tend to work to accomplish good things together and respect the others' interests and needs. It is not a coincidence that I currently have several active projects that have advanced beyond introductory stage with one global consumer packaged goods company. I owe this not only to the strength of the technical value offerings that establish the basis for the interaction, but also to the strength of the relationship that we have built.
In situations that allow for this, do you take the time to build a foundation for relationships before you seek to sell to or influence others? While I can't say that I am yet as consistent about doing this today as I will be, I am convinced as to the widsom of doing so.
What are your thoughts on this subject?
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