Small exchanges can lead to bigger thingsWritten by Tom Richard | | email@example.com
Meeting for a round of golf, you find yourself the first to arrive at the home of a friend of a friend. Although you are parched, when the host, whom you barely know, offers you a drink, you politely decline.
“Are you sure you don’t want something?” the host asks again, obviously sincere.
“I’m sure. Thanks, though,” you say with a smile and hand gesture.
As the host disappears into the kitchen, you take a seat on the couch, wondering why you declined his genuine offer. He returns with two bottles of water and places one on the coffee table in front of you.
“In case you change your mind,” he says with a smile. Quickly, your mind is changed. You lean forward and grab the cold bottle. “Thanks,” you say as you twist off the cap.
Now, imagine the same situation in the home of a close friend, someone with whom you have an established personal relationship. Chances are you would have happily accepted their offer the very first time. Why is it that we have such an instantaneous reaction to decline when someone we barely know offers us something to drink?
No matter how awkward the first scenario may be, the moment you reached out and accepted the bottle of water, a small step was made in establishing a personal relationship with your unfamiliar host. For you, the offer was a simple, but welcoming gesture, making you feel a little more at home in a foreign place. For the host, your acceptance was a small victory for easing the tension and making him feel like a good host.
The wonderful thing is that the same thing is true in a business setting. Often in business, we sit and contemplate how we can better establish personal relationships with those we do business with, yet we often overlook the simple things we can do to get things started on the right foot.
The offer and acceptance of a beverage at the start of an appointment, meeting or while waiting in a lobby is the simplest form of establishing a relationship of mutual giving and accepting. As a guest, your acceptance shows you are unguarded; you appreciate working with your host and want them to know you are happy to be there. As the host, your offer puts your guest at ease to not just take a drink, but to work with you comfortably on your home turf. With this simple exchange, the distance between the two parties is shortened, even before any business has started.
In business, and especially in sales, everything is about momentum and getting things off to a good start. This beverage exchange is one of the most overlooked, yet effective details of starting the relationship and the sale off right. While it is a simple transaction, it carries with it a lot of weight.
Even in a business situation, personal relationships are everything. People want to do business with friends because it is an easy, enjoyable and trusted relationship. If you want your customer to see you as a friend, you must encourage interactions that symbolize friendship in even the slightest way.
Whether you are the CEO of the company or somebody much lower on the pecking order, demonstrate your willingness and persistent desire to serve by offering your guest a great-tasting cup of coffee. This cup of coffee should be the first thing you sell to them. After all, if you can’t sell them on that, how do you expect to sell them on the idea of doing real business with you?
Similarly, if you are the guest, happily accept this generous offer of coffee. You will be surprised by how comfortable this will make you and your host feel. By breaking the instinctual resistance of this small exchange, you will open a much bigger door to friendship and opportunity.
Tom Richard is a Toledo-based sales trainer, gives seminars, runs sales meetings and provides coaching for salespeople. For more information, visit www.TomRichard.com, call (419) 441-1005 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.