As you become more experienced in business you will begin to dig deeper into how you are approaching each day. When I began in 2006 my only reference was through my experiences as a real estate broker and residential appraiser. Starting out in that business I worked for others, and by 1990 I was more than ready to go out on my own as a small business owner. The terms and phrase “transactional or relational” were not a part of my vocabulary and I would have been guessing if someone had asked me to define them.
My goal was to find clients and work with them until our goal had been met. Sometimes it was to find them the right home to lease or purchase and then move into so their family could move forward. On other occasions the goal was to list their current home and locate the right buyer. In appraisal, goals of my clients included receiving a professional report to aid in the buying, selling, refinancing, or probate of one or more properties.
When I concluded each of my assignments I considered the transaction to be complete. That is where I made a huge mistake that likely cost me a million dollars and perhaps much more during my two decades in this worthy profession.
What should I have done instead?
We must move from being transactional in our dealings with others to becoming relational. In business this would look like building a relationship with your prospect or client before you make a sale. Everything goes wrong when you sell before building a relationship with your prospect. The biggest disconnect in business is that everyone wants to sell, and no one wants to buy. Imagine yourself with the sales skills of building relationships with your prospects, and how different it feels to them when you don’t push your wares at first contact.
It all comes down to whether you are in business for the short-term or the long-term. Many years ago I sold cars at the local Toyota dealership over the summer. They hired me for a twelve week stint because they were short of sales people and I wanted to do something other than wait tables to earn money before returning to school in the fall.
One of the lead salesman took me aside on the first day and said, “Don’t make friends with these people. Sell them a car and move on to the next customer. You won’t ever see them again after they drive away from here. Do you understand?”
This could have sounded cold and callous to me, but it didn’t. I completely understood what he meant. I was in it for the short-term. Every other salesperson was there for the long-term benefits and obligations. I would be out of there before there was a chill in the air denoting the end of summer.
Many times someone would come through the door and I would jump up out of my chair if I was sitting down or walk briskly across the sales floor if I were already standing, and extend my arm to shake their hand. They would say, “I’m here to see Tony. He sold me my Corolla last year and now I need a car for my daughter who’s headed off to college in the fall. When I received Tony’s card last week I knew I’d be back. Is Tony here?”
Tony was in business as a car salesman for the long-term. He and many others would spend the early morning hours until prospects began to come in writing short notes to previous customers on cards provided by the dealership. They painstakingly write something kind and friendly, mentioning the type of car he had sold them and something personal, if they could remember or had it written down on the index cards that filled everyone’s little black file box. Sometimes I would offer to address the envelope so it might appear that the salesperson had written the card personally but an assistant had done the rest.
When you are deciding between transactional or relational for your business, think about how you want to be perceived by others along the way.
What you can do right now to get on the path of being more relational and less transactional
Take a look at what you are doing today; right now and in the next several hours. Write down the names of the people you will encounter on purpose. Imagine who might come in to your realm of awareness before the end of the day.
How will you interact with them? Perhaps you have an appointment to get your hair cut. Is this your regular hairstylist or are you at a new place where you don’t yet know anyone. During the half hour or forty-five minutes you will sit in the chair and have this person work on you, what do you want them to know about you and what would you like to know about them?
Do not think of this as a way to make a new friend or further your business at this point in time. Instead, think of this as a simple human to human interaction where you are kind and wish to serve the other person by showing them who you are. You’re back in Kindergarten and you go up to someone and say, “Do you want to be my friend?” They nod and the two of you find somewhere to sit down and have your snack. It’s as simple as that.
Think about the interactions you are having with the people who come into your life for personal or professional reasons. Are you taking the time to build valuable and meaningful relationships, or simply transacting your way through your life? I’m reminded of this from Winston Churchill… “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”
The bigger question of whether you will be transactional or relational in your business is up to you each day. Reach out, shake someone’s hand or give them a “thumbs up” virtually. Ask them a question that gives them the opportunity to share something about themselves with you. Do the same back. Years from now you probably won’t remember this was the first action you took with someone who is now a friend, a mentor, or a business partner. When someone just meeting the two of you asks you how you met this person with whom you have now earned millions of dollars and changed hundreds of thousands of people’s perspective on something of great importance you will most like share a different, more interesting story than this simple one. Every interaction holds great potential for the future, if you’ll take the initiative and allow the process to be put in motion.
I’m author, publisher, and entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my training on how to sell yourself at Sell Yourself and Your Stuff and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.