In one of my business practices, the founder/owner and I engage in review, evaluation, planning and preparation every year starting just after Thanksgiving break. We spend a month at this; we purposefully set aside time to talk with our colleagues, each other, others in the field, and our staff associates to fully appreciate what we’ve experienced and what we might want to happen next. We’re almost brutally honest, and also completely open to ideas, opinions, and information. In some years, we’ve turned the business inside out and upside down to explore and try something new, and then at the end of that year concluded that we made mistakes and want to try something else entirely. It certainly presents challenges, and one has be somewhat fearless to go through this: you don’t know, and you don’t even try to predict, what you might learn and discover in the process. But we can’t argue with the the results: raving clients, happy and productive and enthused staff, increased profitability, and a fine workplace.
During this process, we’ve often turned to various measures: numbers of calls, numbers of prospects, percentage of prospects who become clients, types and behaviors and expectations of clients, and at least several others. And we’ve learned: selling is dead.
Our best years have been when we’ve focused on elevating our relationship building by delivering what the client wants and needs, and by approaching each prospect as a present and self-aware person who has clear ideas about his or her world. That is, we approach everyone with complete respect and appreciation, and we approach thoughtfully, caringly, and deliberately. Relationships are created and built. And through these relationships, business is completed.
Over time, and this measure varies since each relationship blossoms differently, “sales” are made. More accurately, actions are taken that satisfy each client’s interests to the extent that our busines earns money for what we’ve provided (thoughtfullness, care, purposefull discussion, quality information, solutions to challenges).
We don’t sell anything; we offer relationships that address needs and interests of clients.
Business, particularly service business, is not about selling; it’s about building signficant and lasting relationships. And it’s done through networking, collaborating, partnering, one-to-one conversation. It necessarily requires empathy, self-awareness, and respect. “Being there” when it counts is replacing the sale.