The phrase, “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust” it is – without question – the foundational premise for everything I teach in terms of business networking and overall business relationship-building.
I’m often asked the following question:
“Bob, isn’t it also true that, all things not being equal, people will still do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust?
While that sounds correct, actually, by and large, the answer is no, they won’t.
First, understand that when I say, “all things, or all else, being equal”…I mean equal, or even anywhere close to equal.
So, now let’s ask, “why is ‘all things not being equal’ incorrect?”
Because, if things aren’t equal (or close enough to it) the fact that the person knows, likes and trusts you just won’t be enough to swing the sale.
For example, one person has an inferior product (and it’s an important product that the buyer’s family will be using. In other words, the quality is important!). It doesn’t matter how much he is known, liked and trusted, he’s most likely not going to get that buyer’s business. Things are unequal. If all things were equal (or, even close to equal), he’d get the business.
Two people have great products, similar prices, terms, reputations, etc. But the person you know, like and trust simply cannot get it delivered by the time you need it, and it must be in order for it to make sense for you to purchase it. You will probably go with the other person. All things are not equal, or even close enough to being equal.
Just one more of hundreds of examples we could all come up with: I grew up with a great family dentist. I know, like and trust him. Even after we moved from my original town (where he was located) to an hour away when I was four years old, we continued to drive an hour each way just to see him. Things were close enough to equal. But that was in Massachusetts.
I now live in Florida and have for close to 25 years. It doesn’t matter how much I know, like and trust him, things are too unequal. As soon as I moved down here, I found a local dentist.
I hope these examples make sense and clarify why, as important as “know like and trust” is (and it is!) its power must still be based on the premise of general equality in other aspects of the sale.
Agree? Disagree? Either way, I’d love some examples from you!
By the way, I remember reading the following years ago in Tim Sanders’ bestseller, Love is the Killer App: “If you’re nice, but not smart (in this context, by “smart” he meant knowledgeable and able to perform your job), it won’t scale.”
In other words, the know you, like you, trust you relationship is vital, but you still must be able to perform, or, deliver the goods, so to speak. And, your product must be at least close enough to equal.
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Great! Thoroughly enjoyed your explanation and logic in “But, What If All Things Are Not Equal?”
We wrestled with that question recently while choosing a real estate agent for the sale of a deceased family member’s home. If all things were equal we would have chosen the agent we’d had a past good experience with. But all things are not equal.
The agent who finally secured the listing won because of “special” factors including the fact that the home was in his “territory.” He was farming it regularly by sending out informative newsletters on the value of homes in the area. And he had a network of agents who knew his work in that condo development.
It wasn’t an easy choice because both agents were excellent. But in this case, more relevant experience trumped a trusted relationship. (And the home sold within 4 days for over the listing price.)
Know, like, trust AND giving good value & service. What a concept
Robert, you continue to be a voice for the all too UNcommon sense of business as UNusual.
I appreciate you.
Bob – I agree! I’d extend to logic to include being very up front with customers when your own solution is not the best match to requirements. Don’t force fit it – EVER! If you’re not the best choice this time, say so. That ensures that you’ll have a next time. – Todd
Franke, that’s an excellent point. Thank you. Terrific example!! I could not have said it better. In fact, I didn’t…YOU did. 🙂
Dr. Fogg, thank you, my great friend. Always an honor to hear from you, kind sir. (I like that; business as UNusual) 🙂
Todd, sorry about that. Wasn’t ignoring you. I must have posted my response while you posted yours. Thank you for sharing.
Great illustrations – Sometimes you just can’t equalize the equation. (I’ve never known a dentist to relocate to keep a patient.) You CAN, however, be mindful of the values that are most important to your market and use the “more in value than in payment” equation to offset other “non-equal” factors. For instance, often the “non-equal” factor is money, time or convenience. What would make it worth it to someone who knows, likes and trusts you to spend a little more, take a little longer or drive a little further? Don’t assume it’s just one thing – it might be the customer service or the personal attention but it might also be the guarantee or the prevention of future discomfort. ALL things being equal is seldom a real life situation because business has so many variables – it is a “which is more” formula that the prospect weighs out in their mind of “it costs a little more but the guarantee protects me for a longer period of time” for instance and the factors that are MOST important to that person will tip the scales.
For instance, you mention a dentist. I have a client who has been with me for nearly 15 years who is a dentist. People come to his practice in a small town in the middle of Kansas from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Colorado and further. He isn’t the priciest option but he isn’t “cheap” either. His practice is nice, but not opulent. He doesn’t focus on cosmetics but he is a true artist in creating natural-looking, beautiful smiles. His loyal following knows that they will be heard, they will be treated with unrivaled care and respect and that they will have long-term oral health because he doesn’t do “second-best” dentistry.
I don’t think it is coincidence that this is the client who first requested that I create the workshops to teach The Go-Giver and who has continued to support my coaching of himself and his team around the 5 Laws of Stratospheric Success. When he said “I want my staff to understand that this book IS the philosophy I want in my practice” he meant it – and he’s proof that they WORK!
excellent post Bob. I remember the years in retail, when often I could not provide what my customer wanted. They knew, liked, and trusted me, but sometimes I just didn’t have what they needed. This I looked at as an opportunity and referred them to someone, I liked, knew and trusted to give them what they did need. Relationships – all … See Morerelationships- take some effort. Sometimes the greatest opportunities lie in the sales we didn’t make.
Looking SO forward to seeing you in a few weeks!
Have a delicious day!
I’ve been chewing on that “All things being equal” thought for a while, but had not figured out just how to articulate it. Interesting that you read my mind. 🙂
In my referral based group, we work hard at giving referrals to each other. I, personally, first made time to meet with many people one-on-one so that I could create my own KLT feelings with them. Anytime I pass on someone’s name & number to them, I need to know with absolutely certainty that they will be taken care of like I would take care of them myself.
So, it comes back to really understanding who our associates are as people of character, as well as knowing how they can serve people who KLT me.
Glad you found a new dentist Bob …. That would have been an awfully long commute.
Your biggest fan,
A few yrs ago I had decided to be a retail market salesperson in a jewellry store. A couple came in and had wanted a particular ring which we did not have in stock and they wanted it that evening.
We could order it from another store; however, it would take at least two days…I referred them to another store in the mall who had a great selection. The fellow said to me “don’t u work on commission” to which I replied, “yes, I do…but I also want to provide you with great service by getting what YOU want, if you do need any other help in the future here is my card”.
A few months later the same gentleman came back to our store and ordered a ‘made-to-order’ ring worth over $5,000…and he came to me….remembering that I wasn’t all about the commission…I was interested in giving him what he wanted.
I was flattered that he came back to me….and I think that not everything is equal..I chose to put my customer first…even if it meant a no ‘quick sale’ for me…but in the long run I had made a customer by my service!
Bob, this topic came up just yesterday in Dixie dynamite’s Blast Through coaching group. (which is awesome by the way!)
We had a bit of a different situation. A big box store in competition with a long standing local small business. Both sell a particular segment which involves product and installation. The ‘Goliath’ is offering free installation, a significant savings, and an offer which the small business cannot match.
The small biz owners have a great deal of know, like and trust built up in the community. … See More
A clear case of ‘all things NOT being equal’.
So, how does one equalize? Sell on service, value, customization and personal attention are all answers that make sense but don’t necessarily ‘equalize’ the playing field.
It was discussed that in addition, one had to sell on relationship in the long term. By example…
– Free installations will often not match the quality and care of the small biz work
– Point out the potential added cost(s) of ‘re-do’s’
– Highlight the consistency of personnel
– The small biz knows you as a person vs. ‘customer #908340’
The ‘big box’ will sell the product and the installation then be ‘gone’. The small biz is selling an investment in the quality of the product, the installation and the ongoing commitment to customer satisfaction.
Bob, as always, I’d appreciate any insight you care to share.
Leigh, Jennifer, Dixie and Jody: Thank you for your inspiring letters and very wise information. WOW – great! Read each of them at least twice. Thank you for sharing!
Hi Bill, thank you for your letter. Seems to me you did indeed provide many of the solutions right within your letter. And, as our friend, Sean Woodruff says (I’m paraphrasing so please forgive me, Sean), the small business owner should basically find all the areas in which things are not equal in a positive manner and make those the focus. There are so many things the small business owner can do that the big box store simply cannot simply because of their lumbering bureaucracy. Find those areas and make that the focus of your Unique Selling Proposition. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and wisdom with us.
I’m late to the party but here is my Facebook response…
All things NOT being equal should be what every small business highlights when competing with big box stores. I would guess there are very few box store employees who even care to develop the know, like and trust aspects of doing business and that is why they have to give the free installation as an offset.
Another thing to consider is that even when a big box sells the same brand name as a small business it often times isn’t the same product. It is a lesser version stamped with the same name. Many people don’t know that occurs and believe they are purchasing the benefits that built the brand. It isn’t always the case.
I think personal relationships always out weigh other options. I would certainly be willing to drive just a bit further or pay a bit more in order to support a business or person that I believed in. I know there are other considerations such as how much further is too far and how much more money is too much money. But my overall rule is to vote on the side of personal relationships. I want to do business with friends, or make friends with the people I do business with.
I love the reference to Tim Sanders book “Love is the killer app”, it is one of my favorites and must read business books. I wrote a review on that book on my blog and listed the best big ideas.. such as: By expressing your compassion, you create an experience that people remember. When people remember you, it’d good for business. Also, to always be building excellent value currency by sharing your intangibles which include your network, your knowledge and your compassion. That really is the key as to how to set yourself apart!!
Great post Bob.. you have created quite a think tank here!
I try to buy from people I have previous experience with and have developed a relationship with.
How far is too far? I had to really think about this after reading your post. In the past I was prepared to drive more than an hour each way to see both my counselling supervisor and my massage therapist. This was because they were the best fit for me and also just awesome people.
Ask any woman how far she would travel and how much she would pay if she were to find THE perfect hairdresser! Seriously, this is a big deal for us high maintenance (I mean image conscious) females. Often, when we’ve just found the hairdresser of our dreams, they leave or go on maternity leave lol.
My hairdresser flies all over the world to style the super models and Mrs Beckham, so you have to wait quite a while for an appointment with him and the 90 minute each way drive is turned into a day out shopping 🙂
Great post Bob, thanks
I enjoy reading your blog. Maybe you could tell me how I can keeping up to date with it? By the way I discovered your blog through Aol.
Thank you, Domenic. If you look to the upper right of this page, you can actually subscribe for notification whenever a new article is posted. Great to have you with us. – Bob
That is quite intriguing. It gave me some ideas and I’ll be placing them on my website shortly. I’m bookmarking your blog and I’ll be back again. Thank you again!