Here is my column from this week’s Daily Advertiser (I’m going to make it habit to put it here on Wednesdays – if you like it I may even start adding old ones)

If you have ever heard me speak then you have probably heard me say “People do business with people they like, and trust” – I say it a lot, because I believe it is a fundamental truth in business.

This week someone approached me after a speech, and asked how that could help him sell: “How can making someone like me help me sell to them?” – It was a valid question, so I thought I would share my answer here. I said something like this…

Building relationships shouldn’t be about ‘selling’ – it should be about building relationships. Getting to know someone and their business should be done without the constant look for a sale. He interrupted me at this point: “But I sell for a living… I have to think about that”.

I knew he was thinking that I was one of those speakers who just spouts idealistic nonsense (and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that at some point) so I explained further…

No one wants to be sold to, but we all want to buy things to help us with our business and our lives. We want a salesperson to help us find the right products for us, to guide us as a specialist in his/her field. We never want to feel like part of a sales quota, we buy from those we like and trust. Some sales are quick and easy, some take time – it depends on the product. Relationship building is essential if you ever want that person as a customer again, or if you want them to recommend you to their friends and families. Relationship building is essential if you want to stay in business, or be part of a community, or (fill in the blank here, with almost any scenario you can think of)

If your product isn’t right for me I don’t want to be bullied into buying it, but if I like you I am more likely to suggest people who are the right target market for your product. If people don’t know someone they like and trust to sell them what they want, they use the next best thing, someone their friends like and trust.

Look at social media, people are always asking for a recommendation for a kindergarten, or a roofer, or the best place to eat sushi, and they get lots of replies. If you build genuine relationships then you have others selling for you, and that can only be good.

Building relationships isn’t the quick way to a sale, it’s not even the easy way, but it’s the best way to build a career and a life. As Zig Ziglar says “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” – and I’m with Zig on this.