We’ve all heard the expression, “It’s not who you are, it’s who you know.” And while there may be some truth to that, I think that really “It’s not who you know but who knows you.”

Why the distinction? Because people do things for people they know. They do more for people they like. And they do even more for people they love and admire.

So how do you get to this point in a relationship with someone? More specifically, how do you do this in a business setting?

Remember that people buy from people, not just from companies. To get from contact to contract, you must connect with customers on an emotional level. They will justify selecting you through logic, but it is the rapport they have with you, the personal connection, that will truly drive the selection.

Now, of course, there are some basic hurdles that you need to clear before your relationship will even come into play. There are four basic assumptions that you must prove to even be in the running.
1. You must provide cost savings.
2. You must demonstrate innovative thinking.
3. You must make the experience seamless and convenient.
4. You must reduce your customer’s risk.

If you lack confidence in any of the above, take the time to clean up your back room first, because most prospective clients can spot puffery and doubt. People who have nothing to fear can speak boldly, truthfully and transparently, all of which are valued in a negotiation setting.

Once you have demonstrated the above, the relationship becomes essential. We’ve all been in situations – whether making a business deal or seeking a position with a prospective employer – where the job went to the other guy because someone on the team knew him. Your priority is to be the guy they know. This is not something that can be faked; they know and trust you… or they don’t.

This is where patience and perseverance come in. It is critical that you demonstrate to prospective customers a sincere desire to learn their business. It is only through this process that you can give a compelling reason why they should buy from you, one that reveals that you understand their challenges. It may take months or even years to develop that relationship. But I have never regretted diving in deep to learn about a company and the people that comprise it. Even if I did not win a contract with them (yet), what I gained in industry knowledge, experience and contacts helped me close other contracts down the road.

Clifford A. Bailey
speaker and CEO

This entry was posted on Monday, October 17th, 2011 at 7:15 am and is filed under Effectiveness, S.H.A.P.E.. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.