Okay, I know that title of this post may seem like a harsh way to make a point, but things have changed a bit.
There was a time when marketing was about creating the message and sales was all about creating relationships – you got to know a prospect, maybe a lunch, then golf and now we can talk business.
But, who has time for that kind of thing anymore. I mean, now we’ve got 25,439 Twitter relationships we have to get to and please, you just left another voice mail?
I’m not saying that human contact and relationship building isn’t essential, I’m saying that things have flipped around to a large extent.
Make a business case first
Today you must prove your value, make a business case for why a prospect should take your call, email or connection request, before you earn the permission to go deeper.
Test this out – did you wake up today with the hope that you would meet a new entrepreneur or salesperson hoping to come tell you about their products. I’m guessing no, but you may have woken up today and thought, “I sure need to figure out how to get more from my marketing efforts,” or something of that sort.
So now you might actually be receptive to an article written by someone that addresses that very subject. And upon reading that article you might start thinking – “I wonder what it would be like if this person consulted with our business?”
Perhaps your next move might be to Google the author of that piece and jump on over to LinkedIn to see what others are saying about her.
You may indeed move to email to invite her to answer a specific question you have and that may very well lead to a meeting where you walk through a case study of a business just like yours getting the precise result you’re hoping for.
Then a relationship can happen
At this point you may be convinced that this person has the experience and talent to help your meet your objectives.
Once that conclusion is drawn you may become very interested in a full blown relationship where other elements of your business are on the table, things unrelated to your business are discussed and ultimately your hopes and dreams can be explored.
Maybe that point in a relationship never forms, but the experience and relationship that grows from that experience is what makes you stay and what gets you talking.
Relationships for relationship sake or, worse, as a tool to convince someone to buy from you, are a thing of the past and have little place in a world driven by technology connection points.
You must work to earn the opportunity to connect by providing business value early on. You must figure out how to connect others, share insights, prove that time spent with you will be worth it.
I know that sounds harsh, but I believe it’s a reality. Unless and until you build such a strong personal brand that people want to spend time with you for the sake of doing so, you need to think in terms of delivering value first and building relationship as a product of that.
Personal relationships in business matter, perhaps as much as ever, but they come as a result of building trust by making a solid business case first.