Relationships are not Built Rationally
Decision-makers care about many factors when making a purchasing decision. They care about features, advantages, and benefits. They care about speed and certainty of execution. They care about price. They care about brand reputation. They care about all these things, but these things are not the primary drivers in their decision-making calculus. More often than not, the most important factor in making a purchasing decision is the emotional connection an individual decision-maker has with a salesperson.
Salespeople may find short-term success by leading with features, advantages, and benefits—especially if they are fortunate enough to represent a truly differentiated or unique product or service—but long-term success is built on the relationship between buyer and seller. More than any other factor, this personal connection is what drives the sustainability and longevity of professional relationships. Approaching prospects with presentation in hand, all geared up to debate on the rational merits of their product or service, is one of the most fundamental mistakes salespeople make in trying to establish and nurture professional relationships. Salespeople must remember that prospects and customers are emotional creatures first and rational decision-makers second.
Despite their paramount importance, most sales systems either take the fundamentals of relationship building for granted or neglect them altogether. This is a shame, because when it comes to interacting with other human beings, we weight relationships and emotions more heavily than rational argument. As is the case with decision-making in general, approximately 70% of the impression you make on your prospects will be emotional, far outweighing the rational considerations many salespeople spend their time and energy focusing on. This is especially true in the beginning stages of the sales cycle.
Initiating a sales call with rational arguments—with the features, advantages, and benefits—in favor of the product or service you are selling, while neglecting the emotional aspect of relationship building, is the best way to spoil your first impression. And, like it or not, first impressions are frequently the deciding factor in whether or not you are even provided the opportunity to build a relationship and realize a successful selling outcome.
With this in mind, how, in those crucial first moments, can we go about establishing a strong connection with our prospects?
The answer is simple. Before you do anything else, you must make a friend.
 Gallup, 2017 Global Emotions Report, 2017, https://news.gallup.com/reports/212678/2017-global-emotions-report.aspx