The Sky is Not Black: A Lesson in Building Relationships

“We seldom learn much from someone with whom we agree.”  – Mokokoma Mokhonoana

“Well, did you tell him the sky was black, too?” I was unsure how to respond to this question. I was working through one of the biggest deals of my sales career and sought advice from an experienced colleague of mine.  “This is equivalent to you agreeing that the sky is black. You’re not going to grow relationships if you simply agree with incorrect statements just to be cordial.” I knew he was right and that the deal was in jeopardy.

I recently wrote a post on why and how to grow relationships with your closest customers. Oftentimes, I believe that people mistake growing relationships with “yessing” their customers to death. This is actually counterproductive and results in a lot of one-sided conversations. The best way that I’ve seen relationships grow is by adding value and educating your customers. And yes, sometimes this requires that you challenge the customer in order to obtain a positive outcome for both parties. As Tim Ferris says, “A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have.”

At the end of the day, I ended up losing the deal but it was a good lesson in communication and one I wanted to share. Hopefully, this can serve as a lesson for others to be willing to have the uncomfortable conversation and never tell your customer that the sky is black.

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