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Dual Meaning

2 min readNovember 16, 2021

I read so much nonsense about relationships in sales.

The problem these people have is that they can’t get past a single definition of a “relationship” as an “emotional bond between people.” AKA a friendship.

That’s such an archaic way of looking at relationships in sales.

My friends, we are all reasonably sophisticated people. So, let me suggest that it’s possible for all of us to hold two distinct meanings of a single word in our minds at the same time. In fact, you already do it.

For example, let’s examine the word ‘custom.’

Think about two of the most common uses of the word. Custom can mean a common practice. As in ’It is our custom to have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.’

However, “custom” can also mean something uncommon or unique. Like something built for a specific purpose. As in ‘Yes, this is custom software we had developed for our specific requirement.”

Now take a minute and think about the two most common uses of relationship.

It can mean, as I wrote above, “an emotional bond between people.” This is the definition that appears to confound those people who think a relationship in sales has to be something deep and meaningful.

More to the point, a relationship also means “the way in which two or more things (or people) are connected or work together.”

So, when you think about building a relationship with your buyers, which one are you aiming for? The deep emotional bond? Or the connected functional relationship that enables you to work together to achieve a common goal?

Of course, you’re going for the latter.

Think of some other things that are connected to work together.

For instance, a sprocket and a chain on a bicycle. Or, a wheel and a tire. (Okay, I admit that I’m looking at my bicycle as I write this.) How about a lamp and a lightbulb?

These are all things that have a functional relationship. And, I’d be willing to bet that they aren’t even friends. Yet one can’t fully function without the other.

Whether you like it or not, if you’re selling to human prospects, you will have a relationship with them. And, it is the quality of that connection that will dictate your odds of success with those prospects.

Follow Andy on LinkedIn.