Who Are We Building Relationships With?


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As sales people, we know relationships are important.  I hear comments all the time, “Sales is a relationship business.”  “Sales is a people business.”  We are learning the importance of networking to increase the breadth and depth of our relationships.  We nurture those relationships to build trust and confidence with out customers.

In building relationships, we use terms like “connecting,”  “creating value,”  “earning the right.”  We seek to develop relationships where we become trusted advisors.

But sometimes, I wonder, “Who are we building relationships with?”  Sometimes, I think we are building relationships with our devices and technologies.  I think we leverage these as surrogates to connecting with human beings.

Look at most meetings:  Most people have one ear, one eye tuned to the meeting, the other eye and both hands focused on their device.  Rather than looking at the people in the meeting, we are looking down at our devices.

Look at a group of people having a meal, cup of coffee or drink.  Mobiles are arrayed on the table, a buzz or vibration, diverts someone’s attention to the device.  Walk down any street, people aren’t looking around, they’re heads are bowed, I suppose in some sort of ritual worship of their devices.

It’s amazing to me to see a group of people who obviously know each other, sitting together in absolute silence.  Eyes focused on their device, thumbs busy, no one is talking to each other.

There are those that say we have to be “social,” then talk about numbers of connections/friends, likes, follows.  We measure our social relationships using things like Klout scores, reach, impressions, or other meaningless indicators of relationship quality.

According to Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, “Now our global sales team can create customer relationships instantly from anywhere.”

We tend to focus on quantity, rather than quality, proudly proclaiming ourselves to be “LIONS” or “Open Networkers.”

Rather than meet, we text, IM, Tweet, email.  Voice traffic on phones is declining, being displaced by messaging of various types.  Rather than developing relationships with people, our devices and tools serve as surrogates.  It seems we let our devices and tools actually put barriers to establishing rich, quality, thoughtful relationships.

There’s security in building a relationship with a device.  It never argues or disagrees with you.  You don’t have to pay attention to the device–you choose when you want to, and what you want to pay attention to.  You can say what you want, you never have to listen, you don’t have to respond to someone challenging or questioning you.

Our devices serve as our relationship intermediaries.  If we were to focus our relationships on people, we have to be present.  We have to pay attention.  We have to look a person in the eyes, as they look into ours.

Building a relationship with a person is tough.  We have to pay attention, we have to listen, we have to actually engage them in something meaningful and relevant.  Building a relationship takes time, we have to invest in the individual, we have to trust and be trust worthy.

Developing a relationship with a person heightens our insecurities or vulnerabilities.  What if the person doesn’t reciprocate or want a relationship?  What if the person disagrees?  What if we are wrong, maybe we have to change our point of view?

Developing relationships requires we invest ourselves in others.  Great relationships create great value for both parties–over a long period of time.

I love my tools, I love how they extend my ability to connect.  But ultimately, what I really value is the ability to connect with an individual.

Over the past two days, there have been a couple of remarkable pieces about this issue–far better than I’ve expressed here.  Take the time to look at them:

Charlie Green on Relationship Inflation.

And this fascinating piece on YouTube, Look Up:

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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