Understanding the Relationship Process – By Dave Cooke

Last week one of my close and respected sales professionals, Chris Conrey, released his manifesto entitled “Post Modern Sales.” I have read it several times over and found it simple, insightful, and on point.  I am a huge fan of people who can get to point quickly and clearly without blathering all over the place and I admire this work for its efficiency and clarity.

I encourage you to take the time to read it and carefully assess your behaviors and sales process as it relates to the four shifts or transitions.  It is the first transition that is the focus of this post: “Relationships and interactions over transactions.”

All too often I am still observing  a sales behavior that emphasizes a ‘getting to the deal’ mindset.  I recognize that depressed revenues and a shrinking market put increased pressure on making the most out of perceived business opportunities.  However, there are still too many transactionally based behaviors that are actually inhibiting growth, rather than enhancing it.


In the following graphic we see that most transactional relationships are still centered around: Meet, Pitch and Close. In this process around 50% of our time and energy is wasted on close tactics — negotiation, overcoming objections, sales manipulation, chasing after the prospect after we deliver our proposal.  The inefficiency of this process is the amount of time spent chasing after a client to convince them to buy, rather than investing an appropriate amount of time learning and building a more impactful business relationship.





The graphic to the left illustrates the differences is where the time is spent.  In the Relate, Learn, Solve model, the selling time is a productive process of learning, discovery, and relationship building.  By the time a solution is presented to a prospect their interest, their confidence, and their sense of value in the business relationship is quite strong; 0r significantly improving and shortening the close process.  In this scenario little time is wasted chasing and all time is productively invested in building strong, lasting business relationships.

I continue to press with this relationship model as I still hear and read a lot of the right noise regarding the concept; yet, I still have not observed enough professionals working the steps to do this effectively.  The purpose of the graphics are designed to visually drive home the point where your time, energy, and focus needs to be if you are going to be a great relationship builder and professional resource for your clients.  Hope this helps!



There are No Shortcuts to Successful Selling

I am a passionate advocate of the relationship first, consultative oriented growth philosophy.  In educating others on what that really means, I have discovered a sense of discomfort in the deliberate process I follow to authentically build relationships.

The objective of my relationship building process is quite simple:

Learn and understand what others need, want, and desire in their world.  Know and internalize the importance and value of those issues.  Be the trusted advisor that helps them discover solutions to these problems.

I was asked to comment on the following the other day as it relates to this relationship building mantra: “I see no reason why the relationship road can’t lead to short-term results. It’s not because you’re building relations and go for the consultative approach that you should put off closing the deal I would like to hear your thoughts on this.”

More than anything else, I am rarely in a mindset where I am looking to “close a deal.”  This is the mentality that gets too many salespeople in trouble.  We need to be committed to providing real solutions, to real problems, with a product, service, or resource that meets your clients needs — not close a deal.

Once I have built trust, established credibility, have learned enough to clearly understand this issue in its complete context as it relates solely to the client — only then am I in a position to share with them ideas that I have that may be of value to them.

There is no “close” in my process — only a presentation of a valuable and productive solution for my future clients.  Closing a deal implies that I am attempting to get someone to do something.  When I provide them what they are really looking for — a result of my investing in listening, learning and understanding about that need — they will take the action necessary to move the sales process to the next step.  The reason this occures is because it is what they want and need, not what I desire or expect them to want and need that converts this relationship into buyer relationship.

It may seem to take a little longer to get a new customer in the true relationship building, trusted resource process because too many sales professionals have not yet discovered the power of doing this well.  Learning this behavior, like any change, takes time and practice before proficiency.  Once learned, the relationship oriented model is highly efficient.  It requires one key component– the willingness to be authentically selfless.  A personality trait few old school sales pros struggle with.  Hence, the desire to go for the close, instead of going for the trusted advisor role.

Great results require a focused investment in time and effort.  The short vs. long-term view always concerns me.  There is only one path to productive growth — learn the right skills, the right way and become proficient at it.  There are no shortcuts to that.


David Cooke
Strategic Resource Group, llc

About the Author

Dave Cooke is a nationally recognized speaker, author, trainer and growth expert. He leverages his 25 years sales and marketing experience to create and implement strategic initiatives and develop educational programs which increase both revenues and profits.

Dave takes pride in his experience with turbulent and chaotic work environments.  Having taken the lead in multiple corporate turnaround projects and post merger transitions, Dave understands the challenges organizations face in challenging and difficult times.  It is these experiences that shape his commitment to team, relationships, communication, leadership, and a cohesive, collaborative strategy for revenue growth.

Dave’s unique and interactive programs are designed to sustainably increase revenues and improve customer relationships while integrating team-based organizational behaviors into the revenue growth equation.  His approach brings refreshing insight and enthusiasm to the current trends and complexities of today’s business environment.   And, these experiences drive incredible results as his model consistently delivers a 20% improvement in profitable growth for his clients.