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Should Sales Reps Be Judged on Questions Rather Than Answers?

2 min readDecember 23, 2020

Before we get started, here’s a quote from Voltaire to help trigger some self-reflection:

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

Actually, that pairs well with this wisdom from the Dalai Lama:

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.”

I frequently write and talk about being curious and interested in other people as a precursor to establishing a relationship.

I heard from a friend last week who thought that too much emphasis in sales was being placed on relationships. That perhaps relationships cloud the judgment of sellers in dealing with buyers.

In fact, it would probably surprise you how often I hear from people who are having a hard time understanding the value of relationships in sales.

Have we become so literal that we are unable to think abstractly about what a relationship means?

I say abstractly because a relationship in sales is unusual in that its motivation is not about making a friend.

Which is what throws people off. They can only think about a relationship as a friendship.

It’s not. It’s about a connection.

A relationship simply defines the way two things, or people, are connected. That’s it.

If you have a prospect, you are connected.

They’re shopping. You’re selling.

That’s the thread that connects you as you work to achieve a common goal.

It doesn’t mean that you’re friends. It doesn’t mean that you’re dating.

It just means that you’re connected.

You have a relationship with that person.

Once you’re connected, then you can start to define the relationship.

Good relationship. Productive relationship. Bad relationship. Friends. Enemies.

If you’re not connected, then there is no relationship to define.

If there is no relationship, there will be no order.

The bottom line is that nothing good can happen for you in sales, or even life, if you are unable to connect with other people

Follow Andy on LinkedIn.