right relationship in marketing and sales
Many of us hate marketing and sales, because these relationships are often full of tension. As costumers, we can feel the predatory attention of marketing and sales people with an agenda to get our money, right? So, when we’re the ones doing marketing and sales, and we feel that predatory heat rise in us (because we do need that money!), it is uncomfortable.
I think for this reason, I’ve heard so many people say they wish they could just give away their services for free. We want to be in relationship with each other. We want to be of service. What we don’t want is for money or the transaction to be in the center of the relationship.
However, it often is, because we don’t know how to do it differently.
When we prioritize our relationships and people over money or transaction, we can be in relationship first and earn the money we need. It’s all about putting our relationships first and enjoying money and transactions as the fruit of the relationship.
So, what does this look like?
two big elements of right Relationship in marketing and sales
Relationships in marketing are bigger and more complex than these two elements, but these are two big things we can watch for and begin to implement actions around immediately.
- We are responsible for knowing our own needs and setting up our systems accordingly.
- We are in right relationship when we invite our customers to engage and they feel truly free in their choices.
We need to understand our needs and our customers needs
Great relationships run on clear boundaries, good communication, and fulfillment of needs, including our own. Learning about boundaries and relationships is so critical in good marketing. And part of building skill in relationship is getting clear about our own real needs. When our own needs are clear and met, we are freed from the tyranny of needing to get more from our customers in an endless pursuit of “more.” Knowing our real and actual needs also helps us to define our products, pricing, and policies so that our needs can be met, along with our customers’ needs.
This is important because, when our needs are met, we are free to take better care of all our stake holders.
What’s a real need and what’s not
For most of us, identifying our needs is hard.
We don’t actually know what we need, while we are doing a lot of stuff to fulfill our “needs” and the needs of those who depend on us. Do we really need to grow the company by 25% this year? Do we really need to be 40 pounds lighter? Or do we really just need to sleep more? Do we need more time to think? Do we need to slow down? What do we need?
We often answer questions like these exactly wrong. We do have needs, but they are likely not what we think they are. When we take the time to get clear about what we actually need and want from our businesses and in our lives, our goals will become aligned with what serves us. Our clarity will help us to be more clear in our businesses and with our customers. We will also have more space in our hearts and heads for truly understanding our customers and their needs.
When I did catering with my business Hi Point Coffee & Cafe, I would often be unclear about what I needed in terms of pricing to make my business successful and have the resources to deliver an exceptional product. Too often, I would compromise my own needs and drop my prices too low, in order to get the business. I was more concerned about more business and not concerned enough about meeting my real need for adequate cash flow. However, I wouldn’t sacrifice on quality so it would mostly come out of my own sanity. I would simply work more myself to make up the difference, sacrificing my health for the sake of more business. I didn’t set pricing with enough money provided for a full, well-paid staff, plus additional money to cover the overhead of the business, including rent, debt service, or profit.
I didn’t meet my real needs.
Had I taken the time, with guidance, and respect for my own needs, I would have charged more, worked less, had happier staff, and a healthier business. My needs would have been met. My staff’s needs would have been better met. And I would have had far more capacity and willingness to be open and caring with my customers in authentic relationships!
No one was served by my inability to be clear about my own needs and meet them, including all of the people I so wanted to serve.
It wasn’t anyone’s responsibility but mine to make sure that I set pricing in a way that ultimately met my company’s needs and my own. However, when we keep our focus too much outside of ourselves (on the competition or worries about our customer’s potential push back), instead of on what we need to truly deliver a sustainable, high quality product which serves the needs of all stakeholders, we don’t meet anyone’s needs. Or we may look like we’re meeting needs for a while, but ultimately our companies will be out of business and we will be exhausted by the effort.
How do you go about meeting your needs?
Once we’ve identified our needs, how do we go about fulfilling them? Most of the time, we meet our needs by getting them satisfied. We do things. We buy, trade, take, or manipulate our way to getting what we want. There’s a lot of agency in how we get things done.
And yet, our relationships can suffer in the process of getting.
The problem with getting
When we are primarily concerned about “getting what’s ours”, we are not truly open to authentic relationships with our customers. We may be interested in them, but only because it’s a proven tactic to get what we want. Sales books actually tell us to listen and be interested in what our customers needs and wants are. However, when we are honestly entering into relationship with someone, we do not need to be told to listen and be interested; it’s simply part of building relationships and not a tactic.
When we are getting, we are unlikely to:
- Take the time to get to know people
- Listen to what they truly want and need, independent of what we are selling
- Look for communal solutions that serve everyone
- Discover novel outcomes we hadn’t considered before
Getting is an aggressive stance that people feel and never appreciate. However, we tolerate bad sales and manipulative marketing, because it is our standard way of us getting what we need. We need to buy a new car, we need the car salesperson, even if they are using techniques on us that make our skin crawl.
All of us feel and resist the energy of:
- A salesman wanting to get our business, regardless of what we actually need.
- The pressure to donate to causes we don’t actually believe in or have money to support.
- The subtle manipulations within our families to change our behavior.
We resist, because we resist the energy of getting. Our customers resist it when it comes from us, too.
Inviting Your Tribe Into Relationship
Receiving is a very different posture than getting. The pure energy of receiving is to accept a gift that is freely given. This is a long ways from closing deals, winning, and “extracting value.” Yes, that is a business term I’ve actually read about in Forbes as a good thing to do business development.
We receive in relationships that are respectful and mutually beneficial with clear boundaries. What does that look like in sales?
- When our customer buys our product, we are authentically grateful and is the beginning of a deeper relationship.
- When our customer doesn’t buy our product, we absolutely maintain our relationship. They are 100% free to make choices without disrupting any goodwill. We can be disappointed or even hurt, but we don’t hold our relationships hostage to people buying.
- We allow people time and freedom in their decision-making process.
- We ask questions without agendas.
The beauty of receiving as a way of conducting business is that the relationship is in the center of our business, instead of money and transactions. When relationships are central, people’s generosity and caring interest are also present. These relationships are far richer and beneficial than transactions could ever be. Customer loyalty isn’t bought with punch cards or referral bonuses, but actual heartfelt commitment. In addition, your ability to continually show up and be in authentic relationship with your customers is based on your needs being met, as well.
When everyone’s real needs are met, business is life-giving and prosperous for everyone without struggle, resistance, and games.
Your relationship with your customer is a true relationship when they are 100% free to choose how to make their purchasing decision without ruining your relationship. If they are not free, then it’s not the authentic
Marketing with the intent of receiving
Marketing and communications shift when our intent is to be in an authentic relationship with our customer. Instead of using the latest tips and tricks of social media and content marketing, we start with an attitude of creating a real relationship with our customers. Like building any great relationship, we share our deep truths about ourselves, we inquire about the other, we honor what is true about them, and we create something together.
Marketing in right relationship is about how to answer these questions:
- What do I need in life and in business? Spend some time with this. What do you need to truly and deeply thrive? What do your employees need? What does your business need to flourish? What does your community need?
- Are you meeting these needs? Do your priorities need adjustment?
- What steps can you make to meet these needs? Immediate changes? Intermediate and long-term changes?
- How does it serve my customer for my needs to be met? Are there opportunities that open up by my needs being met?
- What do my customers need?
- What are their needs that I can speak to? What am I currently do to meet their needs?
- What needs of my customers am I leaving unmet? Is there opportunity there? Does it serve my real needs to meet these needs?
- Am I meeting my customer first as a human I’m in relationship with?
- Am I prioritizing relationship over financial outcome?
There is a subtle, but real difference in asking questions of the relationship between you and your customer, instead of how to get what you want from your customer.