A sales professional was in the running for a nice piece of business at a brand new account, and he knew the competition was fierce. Prior to every meeting or sales presentation, Ben would be seated in the lobby to wait for his appointment. There he would chat with the receptionist, Shirley, whose wit and down-to-earth demeanor reminded him of his favorite aunt. In the end, Ben won the business! As per usual, he opened the kickoff meeting with his new account by thanking the client for his trust and his business. The president/owner chuckled and said, “You should thank our receptionist. She cast the deciding vote.”
As it turns out, Shirley wasn’t just a friendly receptionist; she was also the owner’s mother; had worked at the company since her husband founded it 50 years earlier, and just liked staying involved. The owner went on to share that they were down to Ben’s company and another vendor, with the two evenly matched. Shirley shared how personable and engaging Ben had been. The other vendor? Barely made eye contact. She didn’t care much for him.
They say that what you do when no one’s watching is the true measure of your integrity. Ben’s competition thought “no one” was watching. He was wrong. Some would call that karma at work; others might reference the tenet that you should treat whomever you are talking to like they are the most important person in the world. Regardless of your philosophy, there is key learning here for sales professionals – not only about the power of one’s personal connection and emotional bank account, but also about the wisdom of diversifying your emotional deposits throughout the client organization.
Ben wasn’t chatting up Shirley because he had considered the possibility of her influencing the purchase decision (he had not). He chatted her up because that’s his M.O. – to engage and cultivate a relationship with every person he comes in contact with at his client accounts. As a result, his networking within client organizations is superior, as is his longevity with customers and overall sales performance.
When we consider the significance and health of our emotional bank account with various clients, we should weigh our standing across the entire organization. Every personal connection we cultivate in the customer organization is like establishing another root to anchor the relationship and strengthen our standing with the company. And whether for optimal business development or general karma, we should treat every individual we encounter as if he or she has the final vote on our future at that account.