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Selling Is Just Giving to Receive

Business development is one of the most gratifying aspects of my job. Perhaps that’s because I have figured out the formula. Selling is giving to receive. Many moons ago I learned about the law of reciprocity, which is in our nature as humans. 

When someone smiles at us, we smile back. When someone sends a nasty text, we send a curt one back. When someone gives a gift, we give one back. Not always, but more often than not. 

So, when you walk the earth giving gifts, people give you something in return. In my case, it’s often a shot at a relationship - the chance to vie for a piece of business and do great client work. What kinds of gifts do I mean? 

  • The gift of insight – When you give someone a genuinely strong insight about their business, it is a gift. That insight can change the trajectory of their business and create an impact. Deep, differentiated insights are business gifts. 
  • The gift of a peer network – Many business leaders – even those at very high levels - actually don’t have good networks. If you’re not in a business like mine where networking is a requirement, it can be hard to meet other people in your industry. . Some jobs (CFOs, accountants, and lawyers for example) are more about “grinding away at the desk” than they are about attending events or being out and about. So, serving up a peer network or a great connection is a business gift. 
  • The gift of knowledge – Professional development is hard to come by for many businesspeople. And with the world moving as quick as it does, it is vital. Giving the gift of professional development can have a  meaningful effect on someone’s career path.
  • The gift of entertainment – We all work so hard. What is the value of laughter or the joy that comes from entertainment? Entertainment is a wonderful gift and a great way to spend quality time with someone you value. 

You might be wondering why I wrote this “evergreen” piece now. I must thank my friend and client Matt Brown, founder of CAIS. We were in conversation, and he said, “I really like the way you package your ideas. Selling is giving to receive. It’s something I’ve always done, but never put words to.” And with more volatile times ahead, CEOs and founders will need to juice up their business development efforts. 

My advice? Give more gifts. 

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