In all honesty, I don’t actually ever feel like I am selling something. Sometimes I have to persuade someone to give me a chance, or educate someone on one product vs another…etc. The vast majority of my business is actually just asking the questions that give me the insight into what a client wants and needs.
No one wants to feel closed, but everyone wants to explain their prolems to someone who will do whatever it takes to solve them.
So, how do you move from a salesman to a relationship builder?
I will tell you what worked for me.
See the difference between selling and solving:
Selling is pushing your product (agenda) onto someone for a fee. Solving is finding out the other persons problem and providing them with a solution for a fee. Selling often leads to quick money, one time. Solving often leads to slower transactions, but residuals either from referrals or repeat business.
Many people will think that that difference is semantic and I just changed the language to help myself feel better.
But here is an example: Imagine a realtor representing a buyer as well as having a separate listing with another client.
The buyer wants a 3b 2ba single family home, nice yard and the ability to raise a family and a budget of 350k.
The listing is 3b 2ba attached condo, close to downtown small patio with nice common area and costs 320k.
Now, the agent focused on selling, will likely present the condo and may get a double end commission leading to double the money for a single transaction–fast money but likely (in one way or another) not a completely impressed client.
On the other hand, if the realtor had solved, they may have sold a 375k dream home in a great neighborhood with great schools. Then it is a far higher likelihood that the realtor has gained a lifetime client and more importantly a lifetime referral source.
Build mutually valuable referral sources
We have all heard your net worth equals your network. And going back to the idea of solving rather than selling and the example above–even if you find the perfect house for a client, there are between 25-50 other pieces of the transaction that need solving.
A true relationship builder sees that and builds a network of likeminded professionals who will all work together to make client want to buy rather than need to be sold. Escrow, mortgage, title, insurance, moving company, house cleaners…etc everyone one of these services is a potential problem that will need to be solved in the process of purchasing a home and no single member can solve all the problems–get a good network and their solved before they begin.
On top of that, there is a synergy to a fantastic network. When there is trust and a smooth process, everyone grows together and any client entering the group from any side will understand that you all believe in fantastic treatment and white glove care.
You have 3 contacts to make or break the relationship.
Especially in the current world of social media and eternal connectedness, everyone is a potential client or referral source. So, you need to live your brand and maintain the poise of a politician (or bartender)–never talk politics, never talk religion, almost never talk sports and always strive to add value.
Then, once you determine that you have entered “the sales relationship,” you constantly focus on finding out problems and solving them. Listen more than you talk. Never assume (if you haven’t heard–it makes an ass out of u and me) to know what the person wants better than they do. And remember that first impressions are worth a heck of a lot more than any amount of apologies, follow up or funny jokes.
In my experience, both with potential clients and potential referral sources, the vast majority of the relationship is built after 3 connections (phone calls, face to face sit downs or even in some cases emails). By that time they will feel like they have a solid grasp on a few things about you:
First, whether or not they can trust you–this is often an intangible gut decision (and why you never talk politics or religion or sports–unless of course they bring it up and you can talk about all the ways your in agreement). But its more important than almost anything else they can think or feel about you and if they don’t trust you, it may be best to move on.
Second, if you know what you’re talking about. Within 3 conversations you will have said something that either makes you sound like a genius or an idiot if you’re having the right conversations.
There is always a “test” where the client or referral source is going to throw out a question about your business that (they think) they know the answer to and your response is almost always make or break. And for that reason, especially in the beginning, always make sure they are doing the talking and you are doing the listening–it will be a lot easier to hear the test question.
Extra Bonus Tip: I have made more sales because I used this term “I don’t know…but I will find out” than anything else by far. Nobody expects you to have all the answers but everyone respects (and trusts someone) who will admit they need to do some research.
And finally, whether or not they want to do a deal with you–sign on the dotted line or pass off clients as referrals. Its really that quick. Sometimes I have clients that take 30-40 interactions before the purchase, but I guarantee you they had made up their mind about me by the 3rd encounter, if not earlier.
For that reason, you must lead with value. It is imperative to be a successful relationship builder that you start by showing them how you can solve problems and then figure out exactly what problems they have and then, by encounter 3 give some proof to the fact that you can and will solve their problems.
So to recap–
Don’t sell, solve. People will spend as much money as they have to get their problems solved. And whether you are a psychologist, realtor or bottled water, once they have built the relationship with you as someone who can solve their problem, they will keep coming back and tell their friends.
Build a network of equally awesome value. No matter what you do, at some point in the purchase transaction, the client will have to work with someone else as well. You can let that person cause problems that might be a deal breaker or you can build a relationship with a person who will solve the problem before it starts.
You’ve got three chances to earn the business. If you want to make it as a relationship builder you need to recognize that in the first 3 meetings/contacts you need prove yourself worthy. You need to lead with value: show you have solved problems for other people, learn the current clients problems, and prove you can and will solve those problems. Because by the end of 3 meetings they will know if they trust you, if you know what you’re talking about and if they are going to move forward.
I hope that helps.