In his book, Social Intelligence, Daniel Goleman explains that one million years of evolution has given human beings the capability to “read” facial expressions, voice tonalities and body movements to determine whether or not someone else constitutes a threat.
As a result, most people we engage with relationship-centric purposes both within and external to the organization are fairly good “lie detectors” and, at least at a visceral level, can gauge an honest or dishonest nature.
In sales and professional services, strategic relationships must be congruent with your Reputation Capital. That congruence can only be achieved through matching your deeply held beliefs of promises delivered and recognized value with key attributes of actual value delivered and recognized. In other words, your Reputation Capital is evidenced by what you have done consistently over a long period of time. Your reputation is “air cover” that serves as someone’s perception of you until they have a chance to experience the real thing. Without that congruence, others will certainly feel that something is missing.
Do you have congruent answers to the following questions about your beliefs?
- Where are your basic relationship values in not only engaging others, but in how you live your life?
- What do you generally believe relationships are all about?
- When forced with tough decisions, do you tend to prioritize the transaction or the relationship?
- How committed are you to the long-term viability of the relationship?
- Do you believe in the quantifiable value of strategic relationships as truly a unique and highly differentiated strategic asset?
If your answers to any of these questions are incongruent, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to develop strategic relationships at the highest levels. You will find it extraordinarily difficult to elevate your perspective to solve previously deemed unsolvable challenges.
Your reputation is based on what you have done consistently over a long period of time. Specifically, Reputation Capital refers to value promised, value delivered, and that value recognized over time. When you are comparing one person’s reputation to another’s, what they say has to be congruent on a very consistent basis.
This is often at odds with transactions, which are by definition short-term. The attitude is often “get it done,” not “Is this the right deal, company, distributor relationships, or end-customer relationship for us?”
Unless you can consistently think through what you are doing and why – you will struggle. You have to believe in your Reputation Capital as a sustainable differentiator. Then and only then will you be able to truly invest in those relationships.