Jeff's steps to the sale...Step 2 - Get Relatedness

Get Relatedness

Finding connected-ness through sameness.

This step overlaps Steps 1 through infinity. One thing that frustrates me more
than just about anything when coaching a salesperson is this: We’ll be into the
deal and something is going wrong. The customer all of the sudden wants to bolt
just before or a few minutes after we serve figures. I ask where the client is and
get, “Oh she left already.” The first thing I’ll do is to ask about how the rapport
or “relatedness” was. Here’s the response that breaks my heart: “Oh, we got
along fine.” (Does this mean fine like my kids not stealing toys away from each
other or pulling each other’s hair at the moment?) I’ll then ask some basics like,where were they from originally, where do they work? Kids? How old? In school? Are they proud of anything particular about them? And I’ll get, “Well we didn't get in to all that. They were just a price shopper (I wonder why?) but we got on good.”

I’m not saying relatedness makes every deal. I am saying that statistically, lack of
it kills deals or at least profit. I say profit because if you never morph into a
connected human to the buyer, price is the only thing. It’s your job to make it
about a lot more than price.

Remember during “introduce” where we talked about arm’s length and how
that’s done to allow the client to carry out their “price and outta’ here with no
obligation strategy?” This is a lot easier to do to a salesperson or institution than
to “Jeff.” When I become “Jeff,” everything changes.

Point: someone honest might get aggressive on their tax return to get a bigger
refund because they attach it to no person. Nothing wrong with that. If it was
“Jeff the person” writing the refund check, they may still want their due but will
they grab for every penny? Less likely, I think. Another example would be: let’s
say your house was struck by lightning, and all appliances and electronics blew
out. When you’re doing business with an insurance company — an institution —
you aren’t being crooked when you hurry up and buy your replacement items
and get your insurance reimbursement check. However if you were friends with
your insurance agent and the money came out of Suzy, your agent, the human,
then you would still be entitled to replace your stuff but you might look harder
for sales and not just go on a mindless shopping spree. You would probably try
not to damage Suzy (the person) any more than necessary.
What if you became (your name), the person? What else could go easier? The other
steps of the process from product presentation to the client listening to finance
options that they swore they wouldn't do (before you explained the loan
program or lease idea)? How about reconsidering the numbers they came in
thinking would work (which are miles away). I’ll tell you one thing, it’s “free
deal insurance” to develop relatedness. What’s it cost? What could it cost if you
did not bother or figure out how to obtain it?

A good buddy of mine who was a phenomenal salesman and a horrible closer
(thank heaven he sold so well that he never needed to “close” much), and who
retired young, told me a story. He was in the real estate business years ago. He
did so well that a major developer hired him to do a feasibility study of a huge
development that was not selling. There were two competing developers. One
owned all the land on the side of the project that fronted water. The other had all
the inland property. The puzzling part was that the less desirable non-waterfront
property was selling briskly and the prime waterfront was moving slower than
molasses in January. My buddy was called in to study things like population
trends, marketing, economic factors, etc.

It took him about a month. His solution? Hire the inland property’s salesman!

My buddy went in posing as a prospective client and by the time they made it
around the project in the car, and through the model home, the salesman knew
every little thing about my buddy’s life. He barely ever mentioned the actual
product. He tailed the guy with other clients, as a “tire-kicker,” and it was
always the same. Further, this fellow sold about 80% of the property of a five person
office. My buddy shopped and followed the others around, and they
were fine. Focused on product and price. And got along “just fine” (yuck) with
the customers. The top-producing salesman’s relatedness was the economic factor,
not outside forces. That offices’ production would drop most of 80% without this
one person. He also negotiated the least on selling price.
He developed relatedness at the deepest level with the clients he ended up
having meals with, playing golf with, etc. He got relatedness FIRST. He was
someone the client wanted to socialize with (trusted) and he made them someone
he genuinely wanted the same with.

One more thing. If the questions asked of the client invoke pleasure (as they
think of their answers), the pleasure will be linked to you from a neurological
standpoint. You and your product will be anchored in as associated with
pleasure. This is important to remember!

How to Get Relatedness

This is interesting to me to explain as we all do it to some degree. We all
inherently know that we need to do it. So what’s the issue? First, we all don’t do it
every time. I mean without exception. Second we don’t all do it on purpose. Some
of us wait for the client to give us a reason to put in the effort (which, when you
think of it, really leads to less effort) before we “turn it on.” The point is this: we
have to begin our job by getting involved with the client, by giving them a reason
to listen to and trust us (to get relatedness) and to buy LONG before they give us
a reason to “turn it on.” We in general won’t deliver the best version of ourselves
until we get some hint that we won’t be wasting our time. That point of view
needs to end NOW in your case.

Of course it begins with how well you took care of the step “introduce.” Using
our golf example, this was the tee shot. So now here you are, based on that shot,
either in the wide-open short grass or still grappling with it and getting ready to
take your next shot from behind some tree. Either way you have to pick a club
and you have to swing.

So what are you picking up in your observations? A religious “fish” bumper
sticker on the car they pulled up in? A “Phish” rock band sticker? A baby seat
strapped in? Is it some sort of enthusiast car that could lead to a “car nut”
conversation? Does the car they pulled up in remind you of one that a relative or
friend drives? Say that. Ask them not to take too much advantage of the fact that
they remind you of “so and so.” Let this be authentic. Use if applies. “Where are
you from? Local? How many generations? What had you move here? (And
welcome to town, if new.) Do you need any recommendations for restaurants,
barber, lawn service, things to do?”

Every time you ask something, allow them to reply. Then once they have, just
say “really?” Or repeat their last few words, e.g., if they say, “Yeah my son is a
manager at that big new market on main,” you say, “That new market on Main,
hmm” (and shut up). The client will elaborate more. Then you follow up with,
“You must be proud of him. [“I’m a father too”] or [“I never got the chance to
have kids, man I’d be proud”].

Be what you are saying. If you are saying something that makes you sound
interested in them, be genuinely interested. If you say something as a
compliment, be genuinely complimentary. If you say something that shows
enthusiasm in something, be genuinely enthusiastic. Words are only 30% of
human communication. The client’s subconscious is making a decision to
develop relatedness with and to trust you the whole time, whether they even
realize this fact or not. So, finding common ground matters, that’s for sure. I can’t
tell you how many times I’ve called in a manager for a T.O. when I had
“nothing” and once they discovered they were from the same city or state, or
their wives worked for the same airline as my wife once did, the whole deal
came together.

Here’s a true story. I was working at a dealership during a consult and desked a
deal with the dealership’s manager present. The salesperson I worked with was
by far the volume leader of the house. He was a true car dog. Couldn’t knock
him. His CSI was terrific, his repeat was respectable and the customers he
worked that didn’t close were very loyal upon their return. He also worked
“open to close” all the time. So selling a lot of cars is a bit more feasible when you
work two jobs, hours wise. This isn’t to take away from the job he did month in
and month out.

The salesperson came to the desk and said he had a hard price shopper that he’d
met toward the end of the day on Saturday (now it was Monday). My antenna
went up when I heard that the client was both “a hard price shopper” and got
worked “end of Saturday.” I’m not trying to overstate the obvious here, but it
seemed to me that if ever there was a chance of rushing things and skipping the
“get relatedness” step, it would be when a salesperson (understandably) wants
to leave if he “has nothing” with a customer on a Saturday night.

Now, I’m in no way implying that the salesman intentionally skipped or didn’t
nail down a step. This is a normal time for the “show me a reason to sell” gene to
kick in. Takes a lot of purposeful, pointed and specific behavior to not have this
happen. Stated another way, if it were early in the day and one unit from a big
bonus, he might have dug deeper looking for relatedness and earning trust. The
client may have remained a hard price shopper but simply ask yourself:
statistically, if you waited on 100 of these type people, would you get more or
less clients willing to pay a little more, perhaps making the difference between
the boss being able to say yes or move you into more gross?

I know I’m a stickler on this “every time” thing. Again, I’ll do a salesperson’s
class or lecture 40 car dealers and they’ll usually say: “We do that.” Of course
you do. You’d be bankrupt if this wasn’t something you did. The lost money is in
the question, “Do you ever not?” I’m here selling you what you already know so
that you do not ever “not” do it.

So, the salesman leaves me the client’s phone number to see if I could (first
priority) get him back in or (if necessary) raise him and sell the car on the phone.
Now remember, I’m all set up that the guy’s a hard shopper who would barely
give up his name. Also remember that this info comes from a reliable source, the
top salesman. So as I pick up the phone to call the client, the dealership owner
gets up and says, “I need to go do something. I saw how you desked the
salesman, I know you know how to talk to a customer (I was training him and
his staff), so I’ll let you do this on your own. Let me know how it goes.” I set the
phone back down into its cradle and explained that I wasn’t doing this job to
make one car deal but to get processes in place and mindsets right. “If you want
to listen,” I told him, “I’ll call the guy.” So the “almost too busy for this stuff”
dealer slumped down in his seat and had me call. Here’s how it went:

“Hi, this is Jeff Sterns from XYZ Motors, is Mr. Smith home?”
(Woman) “I’m sorry, he’s at the store but won’t be long as we’re getting ready to
travel. Want to leave a message?”

“Yeah, I hope I’m not blowing some surprise, do you know that Mr. Smith was
in our store on Saturday?”

“Yeah, he’s looking at that Miata. I’m not crazy about it but, y’know he’s going to
be 50 this year!”

“So you’re not thrilled but you have no problem having him get this out of his
system? I’ll make it a really bad deal if you want me to throw him off the

“No, he really wants one and deserves it.”

“Good, I’ll look forward to his return call. I heard you mention traveling, where
ya headed?”

“Virginia, our daughter is graduating Harvard.”

“Harvard? Oh-my-God, I have a 3-year-old and a 5-year-old. That would be the
greatest thing I could ever dream of saying about one of them. Imagine.

“Heck, that’s our second kid through there. Our son graduated a couple years

“You must be bursting with pride.”

“Yeah, we’re proud.”

“I’m surprised you can still buy anything with your kids going to schools like
that! Any money left?”

“Thank heaven, they both had academic scholarships.”

“I was going to ask if you were a billionaire!”

“Nope, my husband’s just a pilot.”

“Really? Who with? My father-in-law retired from TWA a few years ago and my
wife was a flight attendant for a short time with US Airways!”

“He’s with Continental.”

“Well my wife would have never been a good pilot, she threw up on every
landing. Sometimes three times in one day! That’s why she did it for only
a short time.”

“Sheesh, poor girl! Well, I’d better get your phone number.”

“Sure, it’s 555-5555. By the way, your voice reminds me of someone I know,
where ya from? Not around here…?”


“OK, that’s what I thought. Now I HATE your family! You’re from the only place
I want to live, your husband has the job every guy dreams of, you have
TWO kids that graduated Harvard AND you’re probably going to have a
cool sports car that the kids will always want to borrow when in town.”
“Oh, hang on, my husband’s just arrived home. I’ll get him…”

The conversation went just as well with the “hard-shopper” husband. I won’t
bore you with the dialog. The issue turned into that they could not come in as
their flight was in a few hours. He also had now found another possible car
online that he would drive home if he liked both the car and the deal. I told him
that the door would remain open here and that if he decides to come in, we’d
love to have him as a client. I also offered a free oil change if he bought elsewhere
“to at least get acquainted with our great service” and that we’d love to see his
new car regardless of where he bought it. I knew that had we gotten this related
to these people when they were here, after meeting our staff on a tour and after a
mind blowing test drive, we’d have had better odds of getting the $500 it took to
roll the unit and maybe even the $1000 that would have made it a nice
commission. Statistically, I’d bet on it.

A sale was made that fateful Saturday night —the customer sold the salesman on
why it was only a price issue, and sold the salesman on not “getting into the
process.” Which left me on the phone a few days later trying to make something
happen, as they were frantic, trying to leave town for the graduation. I felt like I
was swinging my club from the weeds. Imagine if the salesman had developed
this level of relatedness that Saturday, wrote the client then and our next golf
shot was from that part of “the course.” I’m never talking about a 100% closing
ratio, I’m talking about a clear shot at the green and how the odds improve as we
put everyone including ourselves through a specific process. I always demand
from others and myself the discipline of following our dealership’s processes
100%, even if the boss doesn't enforce it. It’s your paycheck!

The dealer was glad he stayed in the office for the call. He is a terrific guy and
everyone likes him. He said, “I get a great level of rapport with clients and have
always prided myself on it. BUT, you got to know the client’s wife while leaving
a message better than I try to get with customers I’m working with in person! I
have so much to do that I just don’t go that deep. Heck, I didn’t know that deep
was possible!” I replied, “You don’t have time?” He said, “No, I do the wholesale
and the books, etc.” “Well,” I said, “That IS the sale in my opinion. The rapport
that took 10 minutes can take hours off the negotiation and close. I don’t even
consider any other aspect of the deal unless it’s going that well. Now, some deals
get “too far” before I’m satisfied that I have true relatedness, but I won’t ever get
my mind off the fact that I’m not ‘there’ in the relatedness department. It’s not an
option in my opinion. It’s not fluff. It’s the beginning of a lifelong connection
with another human that will lead to more sales from them and ferocious
referring. WAY cheaper and easier than advertising and easier on the heart and

The customer came back after his vacation and bought the car. He ended up
paying more. The dealer said that his rapport was terrific on that visit. So much
for the “hard price shopper.”


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