What’s the number one reason sales people lose the deal? They are too focused on the deal!
When you’re in sales, the top priority is ABC – always be closing. If you’re up against a quota, you do what you have to do to close the deal. But that’s where the problem starts – you’re focused on you and not on your clients.
In my career as a sports agent, I negotiated over $500 million in contracts. That highly competitive environment—where there are actually more agents than athletes to represent—taught me the value of relationships over transactions. When you take care of the relationship, it yields a two-way dialogue that benefits you both. If it’s just about signing on the bottom line, it’s one and done.
These three tips will help you focus on relationships, not transactions:
- Act like you have the business before you have the business. When I started my career, I was very intentional about connecting with people when I thought of them, not when I needed something from them. I learned that this was essential to relationship building and it often helped me build my roster of clients. When Atlanta Braves player Mark DeRosa was called up to the big leagues, I called to congratulate him. He is a great guy – bright, talented, and a rising star in MLB. Living in Atlanta, I started thinking how he was a real gem for the city and should be positioned as a marquee player in town. A few days later I called him back and offered to set up a few media interviews with reporter connections of mine, which he happily agreed to. He was thrilled with the press coverage and it helped boost his public profile. Mark and I continued to stay in touch organically. And a year or so later when he was looking for a new agent, he signed with us..
- Communicate regularly, not annually. Is the only time your client or customer hears from you is when it’s time to renew the deal? That’s a big red flag. Stay curious and find ways to consistently connect—it can be as simple as checking in about a piece of industry news, making a beneficial introduction, or sharing a resource like a podcast or book that can benefit them. Be purposeful about putting yourself in their shoes and consistently adding value.
- If you love them, set them free. As a sports agent, we signed contracts with our clients that allowed them to fire us at anytime. It was not the norm in the industry, but it was our way to show our athletes that we were there to serve them. And if we weren’t serving them, they could leave, simple as that. We earned our business every day. We live in a world where people have options. With so many choices, people want to do business with people they like, they trust and that help them. Don’t be afraid to give your clients freedom. It demonstrates confidence in your ability to deliver.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Closing the deal isn’t a future event; it’s an everyday activity. Stop focusing on selling and focus on solving your customers’ problems. Remember, relationships are reciprocal. Author Donald Miller says, “All relationships are give-and-take and the more you give to your customers, the more likely they will be to give something back in the future. Give freely.”
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working with elite athletes and coaches as a sports agent, and applies them to the business world. Her new book, Fearless At Work, is now available. Sign up here to receive our monthly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.