Transactional vs. Relational

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Transactions seem to be a focal point in business.  Companies use it as a marker for success.  After all, closing a deal creates a “runners type high,” and ultimately we must close deals to stay in business.  There is no getting around that simple fact.  But are we missing something?  Is our pursuit of the almighty transaction coming at a higher price and more effort than if we focused on the relational aspect of our customers and their business needs? 

I submit that a transaction-focused approach is short-sighted.  Long-term relationships, even though they may delay the deal, create long-term transaction opportunities and speed up the closure rate in the end.  Sterile or simple transactions are not memorable but establishing a relationship with the sales rep willing to invest in getting to know you as a customer is.  And when you run into a colleague looking for a similar solution, are you going to recommend the online transaction or the rep that took an interest in you?

A close friend of mine is a residential real estate agent.  I remember him telling me something ten or fifteen years ago, and it stuck with me.  He said, “I’m not focused on selling a house to the person in front of me.  I’m confident that I will find the right home for them.  I’m more focused on establishing a relationship with my client and gaining their trust.  I want their experience to be so positive that I become the real estate agent for their brother, sister, parent, cousin, or coworker.  I've bet my career on the value of strong relationships.”  It stayed with me because had my friend focused on the transaction; he might not have sold the 5-plus additional homes down the line.  To this day, my friend does not market or put his face on park benches.  Business comes to him.

So, if you buy what I’m selling, you recognize the long-term investment in relationships pays a significant dividend.  Now, how do you develop a culture of prioritizing relationships over transactions?

Establish your domain expertise and an interest in others:

There are five sources of power a leader draws from, and I will write about them in more detail later.  Creating a relational partnership and the influence to guide others comes down to just two of them. Referent and expertise are the two most effective sources of a leader’s power.  The referent power comes from the ability to influence others through establishing trusting relationships.  Domain expertise is self-explanatory.  It is the ability to influence others by establishing trust through a demonstrated mastery of a topic.  Combining these two power sources creates lasting partnerships that result in transactions.

Bottom Line

Focus on establishing your expertise and creating relationships with those around you.  Invest in getting to know them.  Your expertise will shine through in your work and those around you will rally to follow such a leader.