This article is excerpted from Discover Your Sales Strengths: How the World’s Greatest Salespeople Develop Winning Careers, by Benson Smith and Tony Rutigliano, Copyright 2003 by the Gallup Organization (Warner Business Books).
We are almost reluctant to write this because we can already hear the chorus of objections as we comment on the relationship myth.
“Well, maybe relationships don’t matter in certain situations,” our readers might say, “but in our industry, relationships are everything.” We have yet to find an industry in which this is completely true.
The notion that relationships are critical to selling is so widely held that everyone assumes it must be true. And in part it is. People with strong people skills frequently use those strengths to generate positive results. But we also see people with great relationship abilities who are not able to sell a thing. Why?
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Because relationship strengths themselves are not enough. More than seventy-five years ago, Dale Carnegie wrote his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People. The second half of his title is worth considerable attention. The best salespeople influence others … they don’t just make friends. The best salespeople ask customers for commitments in a way that gets positive results. They are not afraid to risk the relationship to ask for the business. Gaining customers requires more than just making friends.