Working with a group of smart graduates recently on a business development programme, we were doing a fun exercise in instant rapport. Individuals move on quickly and in twos try to get an immediate small talk connection. When I asked the group what they thought they were doing a young man said “seduction”. French, he was. So much more classy than the speed networking line that always turfs up.
The handsome Frenchman with longish hair and excellent eye contact, always through his fringe, was not far wrong. From the cocktail bar to the boardroom is a process, not an event. And as the date is Valentine’s Day it seems a good time to seek out the parallels between business and personal relationship building.
Firstly, eventually, you need to get face-to-face because that’s where the action is. Technology is changing the world but some things still need to be done when you are in the same room. So learn to be good in the room: work on your appearance, your body language, your chat and how you introduce your business. Be curious, be eclectic, be a good listener. And get off of social media once in a while. Even if you sort that lot you are still miles away from closing a deal. In the words of Karen Carpenter, you’ve only just begun.
Shakespeare was not talking about sales when he spoke of the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, but he might as well have been. It is hard putting yourself out there because you are personally vulnerable. Our Scottish Bard, in matters of the heart, spoke of being sometimes crowned with success and sometimes mortified with defeat. The rollercoaster ride can give you a huge buzz and release all sorts of chemicals so it needs to be, because it involves experiencing the full range of emotions, from success to defeat and all points in between. Learn to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, otherwise you might be sick in your own lap (that’s hopefully just on the rollercoaster).
Once you have learned to strap yourself in and enjoy the ride things get really interesting, because your emotions are going to be given yet another hit that you will feel in the pit of your stomach: You are going to be rejected, time and again. That is guaranteed, because nobody who needs to instigate and nurture and deepen relationships wins more than they lose. It’s a numbers game. This rejection is a good thing as it develops your resilience, though it feels tough at the time. Be organised, be serious about what you are doing, be assiduous in your follow up. Then accept you will get a lot of “NO THANKS”, no matter how good you are. Then get out there and do it all again.
Thinking back to my younger days, friends who got more dates were the ones who asked for more dates. Simple, really.
£1.35m in 3 months
The Furniture Practice is an ambitious, highly successful, innovative furniture company which has excellent long-standing relationships with clients and manufacturers alike. For 20 years the company has offered a truly objective, design-led service from consultation to installation and aftercare.
After three months the data around both improvements in skills levels and contracts won was impressive: 29% group average improvement in their business development performance and £1.35million of additional sales (on a £20million turnover) were reported by the group as a direct result of having undertaken the Rainmaker development.
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about the author
Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive and he creates Rainmakers. If you would like to to be a Rainmaker, drop him an email and he'll be in touch.