ROR as a Sales Tool


When I started my career in sales, it was explained to me that there were only basically three types of selling:

Retail – walk into a shop and buy something (variable margin, variable value-add)
Wholesale – supplying the shops with lots of stock (low margin, little value-add)
Business to business – one company selling to another (higher margin and decent value add)

This summary is crude and simplistic, which is why I mention it. If you’re buying a packet of sweets or cigarettes, whilst you may have a preferred shop, you’re likely to be happy buying from pretty-much anywhere. Although you might go to your local shop specifically because you like the people in there…….. good ROR!

On the other hand, if you’re buying a PC, washing machine or a new vacuum cleaner, you’re going to shop around and may even buy online, if you know what you want. However, part of the decision now is about the fact that you trust the supplier.

Now we get to B-2-B, which should include major personal purchases like cars, etc., so it’s not just B-2-B, it’s also B-2-C (although these terms didn’t exist 20 years ago). At the time, this was all about selling products, especially “capital equipment”. These days far more money is moving around in exchange for knowledge than ever before and being able to like, trust and respect your supplier is far more important than with a physical product, reputation is critical, dealing with someone who you can be confident will deliver what you need is critical.

Sure, trust is an important factor with a car, or any other capital purchase, but you can always take a car back and ask for a repair, or even a refund – That’s a hard thing to do if what you’ve bought is knowledge, or consultancy!

Andy Lopata has been asking the question, “How Important is 'USP' in the Relationship Economy?” (, whilst Mike Southon has recently been talking about “Networking for business” ( and they are BOTH RIGHT!

Let’s face it, there are a lot of “corporate refugees” on networks like Ecademy, Xing, etc, many of whom are undoubtedly subject matter experts or, at least, have enough technical knowledge of their subject to succeed, the problem is they left the cosy world of their employer with a great idea, but now have no idea how to let the world know they are there and ready to help! And the money is slowly running out…….

If you want to generate leads to make sales, then Fraser Hay is undoubtedly your man and it’s an especially powerful way to start and to grow a product-based business and leverage the power of the Internet to help you succeed - this man is an expert in his subject and I recommend him without the slightest hesitation!

If you work in a business where referrals, recommendations and repeat business have a huge impact on your bottom line (show me one that doesn’t!), then building trusted relationships who will bring business (or at least warm leads) to your door is critical, but very few people know how to do it well and there are few people out there who will tell you (apart from Mike, Fraser and Andy!).

When Andy talks about a USP, he’s basically talking about making yourself memorable – helping people to remember who you are and what you do….. if you want them to help you, you have to help them(!) and the first step is being memorable. Step two is having the courtesy to listen to their proposition and, if it’s not very good, perhaps, helping them to polish it – it’s your duty to understand what they do and help them explain it as effectively as possible (they WILL thank you for it!). Remember, it’s a 2-way street – if you “pitch” them and then walk away (when they decide not to buy), there’s not going to be much “Like, Trust and Respect” between you, so it’s important to also remember that these people are your ROUTE to market, not your Market (a point Mike also makes).

Let’s face it, if I can’t remember who you are and what you do, how am I ever going to recommend you? Even worse, if you tried a hard-sell on me, even if I remember the horrible experience, why would I recommend you anyway……?

If what you are selling is essentially your knowledge, skills and/or experience, then you will have far more success doing this through trusted relationships (although it works for products too!). How much success you have is basically a function of the number and quality of your relationships, and the return on these relationships and this comes down to how easy it is for one of your network to spot a potential opportunity for you and to recommend you to a prospect.

One last question – If relationships are long-term, what’s the real cost of investing a few extra minutes early on to build a firm foundation that you can build on for the rest of your life?