Make 2017 the Year of Intimacy

Hold on – I didn’t mean it THAT way!

Here’s what the almighty Google says I mean by “intimacy”:

  1. Close familiarity or friendship
  2. Closeness

Select synonyms: closeness, togetherness, affinity, rapport, attachment, familiarity, friendliness, friendship, warmth, confidence

– Yes, there are other definitions, but we’ll stop there – this is LinkedIn, not Facebook!

Sales Relationship Checklist

– Look closely at the list of synonyms – don’t they describe successful, durable sales relationships?

– You get closer to your customers

– Customers feel like you’re solving their problems together

– You feel an affinity with your customers, and they feel an affinity with you

– You have high levels of rapport with key decision-makers and influencers

– Customers feel attached to you, like they couldn’t do as well without your help

– You’re extremely familiar with who, how, and why your customer buys, and they’re familiar with your value

– Everybody – from pre-sales to accounts payable (and receivable!) is on good working terms

– You have genuine friendships built on providing real business value

– You and your customers have genuine good feelings for each other

– You’re both confident in each other, and in your relationship

The Most Important Thing?
I’m going to guess that you agree – the more of these ingredients you have, the better. I’ll go one step further and say that checking MORE of these boxes with MORE customers in 2017 could be the single most important thing you control! Think about it:

– You don’t control whether your company can deliver on your value proposition

– You don’t control pricing, positioning, or any of the other Ps marketing is paid to provide. (I adore alliteration!)

– You don’t control the pace or quality of new product development

– You don’t control what your competitors do

– What’s left? You alone control the amount of effort you put into growing stronger, more durable sales relationships in 2017.

Seven Ways to Get More Intimate in 2017
The whole thesis of my book, Love and Selling, is that the very same qualities and effort you bring to a real, loving relationship can help you grow more successful sales relationships. And when it comes to developing more customer intimacy, no “sales” trick will work – succeeding is actually about ditching the salesy stuff and getting more authentic – more real in how you sell.

Here are seven resolutions you could adopt for 2017:

– Ask deeper questions. Get past the facts and into feelings.

– Listen more deeply, and more patiently. Wait an extra moment to reply. Ask what they mean. Reflect more thoughtfully on what you heard.

– Make more eye contact. Technology gives you the ability to look into each other’s eyes, even across oceans. Are you taking advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to get intimate?

– Meet the family. Earn the introduction to other key stakeholders and influencers.

– Talk about life. Expand the conversation beyond business (but within reason). Learn more about your customers as people.

– Share values. Learn about WHY your customers do what they do – what drives them, both professionally and personally – and be candid about your values. Especially when you’re being asked to compromise them!

– Get vulnerable. In my book (available on Amazon!) this is the “V” in “LOVE,” and it’s perhaps the most impactful breakthrough strategy. Sales is so often an artificial dance, and it’s so rare that people let down their defenses, that the seller who does is truly differentiated. (If I was shameless, I would plug the book one more time here.)

Make 2017 the Year of Intimacy
Sellers, like the stereotypical male, often suffer from fear of intimacy. Don’t let that be you! Resolve to embrace the pursuit of customer intimacy this year, and watch the positive impact on your business – and your personal – relationships with customers.

Bonus application: Every relationship in your life.