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BLOGTactical Relationship Building: Give to Get

by Randall CraigFiled in: Make It Happen Tipsheet, Blog, Business Development, Trust

If there is one statement that is the essence of marketing, it is this: “I don’t care about you, I only care about how you can solve my problem.” Yes, eventually the relationship is critically important as well. A strong relationship allows a conversation to happen, it allows issues to be addressed, and it is incredibly helpful in closing a gap during any negotiations. But at the outset, a prospective buyer is not looking for a relationship — they are looking for a solution. So they don’t actually care about you — at least at the beginning.

Tactical Relationship Building: Give to Get

The question though, is what happens when there isn’t any interest. When you don’t have the solution right then and there. Has all of your marketing effort and investment been a waste? Should one simply “give up” and move to the next prospect? Or… is there an alternative. (There is.)

The concept of Give to Get is simple: unless you put something in the relationship “bank”, there will be nothing available if you want to make a withdrawal later on. Consider the last time someone asked you for something: did you not do a mental calculus to determine whether you should comply or not? At least at the beginning of a relationship, it was likely transactional: “they helped me out on ABC, so I owe them, so I’ll help them out now.”

So how might you “help them out” now, even if there is no imminent opportunity for you? A few Give-to-Get ideas:

  • Send them a magazine or newspaper clipping in the traditional mail, every 2-3 months, along with your business card and a note that you were thinking of them.
  • Send them a link to an article online, every few months, along with why it might be of interest to them.
  • Make an introduction to someone they will see as valuable.
  • Leave them an early morning voice mail pointing to a timely news or market issue.
  • Invite them to an event as your guest.
  • Send them a birthday card.
  • Send them a recognition note for something they have achieved.

What is in common between all of these items is that you aren’t asking for business, but giving them something that develops their respect for you, and for which they will eventually reciprocate. But you’re not expecting that reciprocation — you’re just stashing more and more value into the “Bank of Me”.

And perhaps even more importantly, the more that you get to know them, the more that you actually WILL understand their problems, and will be in a position to solve them. This is a movement from “I don’t care about you, I only care about how you can solve my problem”, to “I do care about you, so I trust that you can solve my problem.”

And so, giving up on a prospect is an interesting concept. Yes, give up on the sale when they say no, but don’t give up on the relationship — build it with Give to Get: it will eventually become something far more profitable. (And enjoyable.)

This week’s action plan:

Who do you have on your Give to Get list? And is it systematized? This week, focus on formalizing your Give to Get process. Start small, and grow from there.

Give to Get insight: How big is your network now? While many will say 1000’s (thinking about LinkedIn and Facebook, perhaps), our true network is best measured by the depth of those relationships, not just the number of them. A great way to build this depth is through Give to Get. Here’s the math. If you send three Give-to-Get items each business day, on a three-month rotation, you can manage a network of 180 people. If you send out 15/day, you can manage 900. (And yes, technology can help!)

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