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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Sales is Like Dating: How to Build a Lasting Business Relationship

Sales is like dating

What could be more complicated than dating?

Just look at the ever-growing array of dating apps and social media stories, not to mention the adventures recounted by our single friends, family members, and colleagues, if you need any confirmation. The search for “the one” is a journey that countless people have experienced -- and many with less success than others.

Sales can feel like a similar process to dating. At The Center for Sales Strategy, we've often drawn parallels between the two. As you are out there making connections and building lasting business relationships, here are a few pitfalls we have learned to avoid.

Pursuing the Wrong Person

In sales and in love, a little analysis can go a long way. Take time to contemplate and define—exactly—what you are looking for. It’s the best way to avoid looking for love in “all the wrong places” and setting yourself up for success with a relationship that can actually work.

Stop Wasting Time with the Wrong Prospects

You must ask yourself, “What am I looking for” before you set out to FIND it, and you must further refine your search before you SELECT the right prospect. You can’t find anything if you don’t know what you are looking for. It seems obvious, but this is where things immediately get off course. Prior to your APPROACH, do some homework. Find out a little about the stakeholder or company, such as trends in their industry and who the key decision-makers are.

In the CSS Ideal Customer Profile, we outline six crucial criteria to consider at the beginning of any business relationship. You may know this as the DAPVaLY model. Are you using this list, and most importantly, are you checking it twice?

Moving Too Fast 

You don't propose on the first date. It would just scare your date away altogether or raise some huge red flags. Take it from the Supremes when they sang, "You can’t hurry love; you just have to wait; you’ve got to trust, and give it time, no matter how long it takes." They knew what they were singing about.

Sadly, when you rush the sales process, that is exactly what you’re doing. Every vertical and product has it own natural sales cycle. If you want to create a buyer/seller relationship that will last, take the needed amount of time to build rapport, define the prospect's true needs, and determine whether your company is the right fit to fulfill those needs. 

Each time you interact with a prospect, your goal is to gain their trust and show your value. Bit by bit, a solid foundation and relationship is formed. 

Improve Sales Performance by Timing and Aligning Client Expectations

Unaligned Expectations

Partnerships—whether personal or business—are built on honest and open communication. Make sure you and your prospect are on the same page by giving intention and attention to aligning expectations at every step of the way.

When you and your prospect are on different wavelengths about little things, it’s nearly impossible to get together on the big things. Contract with your prospect early—and often—at every step in the selling process. 

Too Many Surprises

The inevitable consequence of unaligned expectations is a surprise. These surprises usually do harm to the business relationship because they break down trust in the process, the person, and the solution. In some cases, they can completely derail the relationship.

CSS has long communicated about the power of the No-Surprise Proposal. We call it a “No-Surprise” proposal because it is merely a document outlining all the expectations that have been aligned along the way. In effect, this document breaks a mountain of sales decisions into a series of smaller steps of the decision. It can improve your process and be a bridge to the future, continuing the trust you began to achieve in your initial approach.  

Avoiding these pitfalls can go a long way toward finding the right prospects and building strong relationships. And make the journey to find “the one” a lot more fun!

eliminate objections in your proposals

*Editor's Note: This blog was originally written in 2016 and has since been updated.

Topics: sales process