The Difference Between a Friendship & Business Relationship

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This is an interesting topic because it is often misunderstood.

When giving thought to establishing a “relationship” with prospects many Sales Representatives think of the process in terms of establishing a “friendship”.

Here is how Wikipedia defines friendship“Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association.”

Many Salespeople set out to establish a friendship with their prospects falsely thinking that if they are liked by the prospect they will be successful in differentiating themselves from their competition.

My bride Julie and I recently moved from Connecticut to North Carolina. Julie has a friend who is a Real Estate Agent and I like her. I think she is fun to be around and she is genuinely a nice person. However, I did not list my house with her.

When I met with her for the purpose of gaining insight into her knowledge of the comps, the benefits my house offered over the competition and what we needed to do to get the house ready for market she was less than impressive.

Her thoughts were not well organized, as a result her communication style was confusing and she was unable to provide proof and evidence to support her claims.

Although I like her, she was not able to establish the level of credibility and trust in my eyes which I needed to move forward with this important transaction.

In my work with Objective Management Group I have learned a great deal about how the need to be liked and the need for approval can neutralized and reduce a Sale’s Representative’s effectiveness.

When a Salesperson feels the need to be liked by the prospect it weakens their ability to differentiate themselves as a business person.

When they strive for approval they do not present themselves as a business person who possesses the insights and the business acumen required to give advice and counsel.

Please don’t misunderstand what I am saying. It is very important to be polite and respectful of others throughout the sales process. However, when a Salesperson is compelled to be liked it causes the following problems:

  • They mistake being liked with being respected and it results in them losing deals
  • They gravitate toward telling the prospect what they think they want to hear. This is not a strong position and it is not a consultative approach. In fact what is often best for the prospect runs contrary to what they want to hear. Taking a respectfully candid approached backed up by evidence and proof are not only key elements in the art of persuasion, they also build respect and trust, which are critical in selling today
  • The Salesperson will not be comfortable and effective handling objections. Some of the largest deals I have closed were with decision makers who were extremely tough on me in the sales process and turned out to be some of my most supportive and loyal clients
  • They will be accepting of “smoke screens” and “put offs” such as:
    • “I need to think it over”
    • “I need to speak with so and so”
    • “I think I can get the product/service for less”

Effective selling is not about affection. It’s not about creating a bond of friendship.

If after the sale is made, and in the process of implementation and service, you form a friendship with a prospect that’s all well and good.

However, to seek this form of a relationship with a prospect during the sales process with the hopes that they will like you and do business with you is guaranteed to weaken your position and drop you down to second or third place.

Stick to business principles, business acumen, proof and evidence, insights and solutions in the sales process and you will consistently develop the collaborative relationships needed to close your fair share of business.

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