Unlock Revenue from Relationships – Part 1: Context

by Chris Arlen on September 14, 2012

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Revenue from Relationships part-1All sales take place within a relationship; good, bad, or indifferent. Yet leaning on a friendship for a sale may seem callous and using. It makes many cringe emotionally and therefore shun it entirely.

And if those who sell were hired in part because of their relationships, then there’s a large expectation (and pressure) that their relationships pay off –  literally, in new sales.

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Having a large network rarely generates the expected sales. It seems friendship stands in the way of revenue.

Common justifications include “They’re too good a friend, I couldn’t take advantage of them”, or “I’m still building the relationship and don’t want to jeopardize it by selling.”

These likely cover the real reasons for failing to convert relationships into revenue because they:

  1. Touch on emotions regarding people we like personally and respect professionally
  2. Point to a lack of process

Here in Part I, we’ll look at revenue and relationships in context, and in our next post, Part II, we’ll discuss what do do to unlock revenue from relationships, the process part.

Revenue & Relationship in Context

Your business relationships exist because there is a revenue context. You either met your contacts, or furthered your relationship through a business meeting or event. Recognizing this, and respecting it, is an honest way of looking at relationships born from business.

Not pursuing the revenue side of the relationship then can be seen as dishonest – in pretending there is no underlying business purpose.

Therefore, converting the potential revenue from a relationship isn’t exploitation but empowerment. It enables your contacts to help you.

After all, you are someone they know, like and respect. But it’s more than that, it’s a win-win-win-win (this is likely the first ever quadruple win situation). Consider these wins:

1st win, your contact gains emotional capital from helping you – they feel good about themselves

2nd win, their firm gets value from your offer – you’ll provide better/more value than alternatives

3rd win, you get a sale and compensation – that’s an honest driver

 4th win, your firm gets revenue – another honest driver

Hopefully that puts you at ease in working towards revenue from relationships who can help you but you were afraid to ask.

Additionally, most of your contacts are likely not final decision makers. So their help doesn’t equate to automatic sales anyway.

Each contact has some value in helping drive a sale. For example, your contact may:

  • Not be the decision maker – but may be able to introduce you to them, or other influencers.
  • Not be able to influence the buying decision – but may be able to provide confidential insight to create a competitive advantage.

The sales challenge is to unlock the relationship’s potential: not try to force them to do something they don’t want to do – or can’t.

Enough sermonizing. Onwards to what you can do about unlocking revenue from relationships.

The Unlocking: A Proposed Work Process

In Part II, our next post, we’ll propose a new work process to unlock revenue from relationships. It’s a new, iterative process with three phases:

#1 Classify the Strength of the Contact Relationship
#2 Map the Contact in the Buying Relationship
#3 Exercise the Relationship’s Strength

You can expect to progress through several of the phases and then cycle back through them again.

You’ll want to start the process on contacts associated with your target prospects.

Don’t know who your targets are? Consider completing our free sales plan to define your target prospects’ profile (see the bottom of this email for the link -or- if you haven’t subscribed to our emails you can get the template and ebook FREE here.)

Take a look at the next posts.

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