the right time to build relationships

More and more, I find myself in conversations related to sales and finding clients or customers.

It makes sense; sales are at the heart of all businesses, and I’m constantly talking to business owners (even those with a side hustle).

The internet and some breakout, outlying successes have had a profound impact on how so many of us think about sales. We are beginning to expect that we should be able to sell online, through automation, at a level of scale and very little personal contact.

And if we aren’t doing that, if we don’t have clients walking through our doors from our website, social media, or advertising, we feel like we’ve lost the fight.

But this isn’t Field of Dreams; if you build it, that doesn’t mean they will come.

Relationship sales are alive and well and truly at the heart of so many thriving businesses. At least at the start. One-to-one relationships between yourself and another individual can still truly drive results in your work. (And I’m using “sales” fairly broadly here – again, you’re constantly ‘selling’ yourself and whatever work you do).

Here’s the problem: when I recommend selling through relationship selling, I’m often asked when and how people should start forming these relationships. And at that point, those individuals may be frantic or panicked that they need to make money and pay their rent tomorrow.

Unfortunately, that’s not how relationships work. Relationships are forged out of authenticity and the absence of personal agenda. If you begin a relationship for the purpose of making rent, it’s not going to be very strong.

If you’re struggling to make sales now, the unfortunate truth is that the relationships that should be converting to sales for you right now should have begun months ago. You could have so many strong relationships that by sheer statistics alone, you would be welcoming new business.

OK, Jay, but that doesn’t really help me in the pickle that I’m in right now.

There are creative solutions for any problem. But while you explore those, work on a little ‘preventative medicine’ to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.

As the Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”


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