The news of Pravin, made me think that it’s time to write about something different.
The other day, we walked past our neighbour who had just pulled into her driveway. She had a passenger [Sue, for sake of this blog] with her who climbed out the car and proceeded to greet us, “Hello, I know your Aunt Joan [for sake of this blog] who lived in Barberton.” We chatted, got friendly, proceeded to go out on the Friday night Art Walk – we do this on the first Friday of every month in Hermanus J – , enjoyed a super supper afterwards and then visited twice in the remaining long weekend. And now, we’re well acquainted and my wife stays in touch with Sue.
What happened? A casual encounter with a stranger turns into multiple visits and maybe a good friendship. Why would a stranger become such a quick, close acquaintance?
Sue happens to have a great personality so that could explain something. Joan happens to be a favourite Aunt of mine. My father spent a lot of time in Barberton in his youth so I’ve heard lots of stories and been there often. So could it be that a relationship triangle was forged and forged immediately. Given that it was weekend, we had the time to further the link and from that came a pleasant interaction and friendship.
Interesting that you could probably think of many similar examples in your own experience. So let’s have a look at the subject of this blog: Relational Affinity. Affinity simply means “a natural liking for someone or something”. Relational means “the way in which two or more people or things are connected”. So Relational Affinity means “a natural liking for someone with whom you are connected”. Sounds so simple that it begs a, “So what”!
But let’s dig a little deeper………
When last did you do a deal with someone and the deal just seemed to flow? Was this perhaps a combination of obvious things like Cash, Intent etc or, could it also have been that you liked the person and they liked you. Every day we meet with people but don’t actually sense Relational Affinity so what is different or, how do we bring it about? Here are some pointers:
BE YOURSELF: There is nothing more false than a false person. Glamour, chic, and accentuation, whatever – if it’s false, it’s recognised almost immediately. You have been born and, like the rest of us, you have become a product of Nature and Nurture. Nature, the DNA of your parents. Sorry for you, you gain weight like your Mom and have your Dad’s eyes. If not, you have your Aunt Agatha’s hair. You simply can’t ignore your genes in who you are. Nurture is different. It is the foundation of what you have been shown, taught and have experienced over the years. Even to the point, that the way you have thought about yourself has moulded you into what you are. Some would say you are the sum total of the all the thoughts you have had and all the choices you have made. So being “Yourself” is quite a complex thing to be. But without it, falsehood can creep into the way you relate. Think about it, reflect and then, almost on a daily basis, decide to be self-aware (and include the impact you have on others), as you step out into the day.
SEEK COMMONALITY: Did you know that finger prints are copied exactly but compared using spot checks? When finger prints are taken, your digit is pressed into ink and then pressed carefully onto paper from which a digital record is taken, a foto or a scan. However, when someone is trying to identify you, they don’t scan every crevasse and ridge of your finger print, but rather seek about 60 points from the fingerprint you have and the one they seek. The same happens in your brain when you recognise someone’s face. You do not memorise every feature and, in any case, features change over time so remembering all of them would be futile. All your memory does is remember key points (dots in the “fingerprint”) and then join the dots. That’s why you will say, “She looks like so and so”. Some of the dots align but it’s not the same person.
So what are the dots you can join for Relational Affinity to occur? Dots of age, profession, family, sports, friendships – all of these to find the affinity between you and another person which is common and which could spark a relationship to mutual benefit. We talk about the “common touch” when we refer to someone who relates well to people. For instance, Teddy Roosevelt, the US President during WW2, knew the names and family details of every 168 staffers in the White House. Indeed, like common sense, “common touch” may not be so common. But it can be acquired.
ASK QUESTIONS, THEN LISTEN: If you read the famous book by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, he writes about the power of questions. In all the types of Coaching, powerful questions come to the fore. The effort is not to know it all and tell the client your best advice, but rather to allow them to think through the issues under discussion. Open and closed questions, probing and clarifying questions and the great one, reflective questions, are all powerful means to unlock possibility thinking, problem-solving creativity and solution-orientated action in and for a client. Carnegie’s aspersion is that questions show interest and spark conversation. Ever sat and listened to someone tell you about themselves the whole night? Have you “done it” to someone? – I have, unfortunately! The antidote for self-absorption is questions. “How are you?”, “Where did you go to school?”, “What are you looking for in a house?” and FNB”s “How may we help you?” are all probing questions that can unlock the client’s meaning and needs and create Relational Affinity. Answered as “That’s a good idea”, “I like that as well”, “Oh, I also went to school in the Eastern Cape” are the kinds of responses that create Commonality.
Ah, then the power of LISTENING! Your Mom tell you that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you want to create Relational Affinity as opposed to a Sounding Board (which we all need at times), then listen. Not just with your ears but with your whole body and especially your head, your eyes, your torso, and your hands. Your head nods in affirmation, your eyes are the windows to your soul, your torso (read: “upper body”) moves forward when interested and sits back when you’re reflecting and, finally, your hands embrace, agree, and even reject. Together with your ears, the rest of your body language, as we like to call it, listens more than any attention you can ever pay. Make them all come together to mirror powerful Relational Affinity with your client.
INTERPERSONAL SKILL: How often do you reflect on your impact on other people? I’m selling a flat at the moment and I deal with a number of estate agents. Two come to mind. The one is a person I have known since 2002 and he is really a great guy – mannerly, knowledgeable, professional, and polite. I would love him to sell the unit. The other, I don’t know from a bar of soap. She works for a major group, she has the OTP but she’s direct, abrasive, officious and abrupt. She annoys me when I speak to her. She has never asked me one Relational Affinity question. Her conversation is about my flat and the OTP I have to sign. She’s in it for the money and from her own mouth “Will you sign this today. You know I’m relying on this sale this month.” What is my stance? – With an attitude like that, I’m hopeful the cash sale will go through quickly so that only the conveyancers need exchange communications as soon as possible. So, you say,”Who cares, she’s got the sale hasn’t she?”. “Sure”, is my answer, “But what happens when I want to invest again; would call her or the other guy?” And what about what we all know about, the cost of acquiring new business versus repeat business from existing clients? It’s really hard to be in the property business no matter what your discipline – selling, bonds, renting, maintenance – and always have to prospect new clients because your sales are transactional and not relational. And, finally, what would my lasting impression be of the major brand? Has she been an ambassador or a destroyer of value?
As sales people, our interpersonal skills are vital to our long-term success. Many of you reading this blog have built relationships over decades and they are flippin’ hard to break if I’m a new entrant. Think of this, the value of your personal brand, You Inc, is probably the sum total of your revenue generating capacity over the next 5 years. That’s right! – it’s measurable; all you need to decide on is what period you can still be economically active. And more importantly, you leave a mark on people. Your integrity, your smile, touch and gestures all add to your value of personal goodwill – not as a bank account, but as a person. I meet old Nedbankers in the Hermanus market that have added value to my life over many years and when I see them, I recognise that immediately. Another example, I’ve just had a dear friend stay with us for a break, and he reminded me of all the good times we have spent together in the trenches of Sales. That’s Relational Affinity of a very high order.
Reflect upon your impact on others. Practice your inter-personal skills.
There is so much more to say and I know the bookshelves are full of appropriate self-help books on similar topics. But think about it, recognise the way you build relationships that last and grow.
In closing, Relational Affinity means “a natural liking for someone with whom you are connected”. Just to say this, Homeloan Junctionappreciates you and holds your business close to its heart. That’s why we keep coming back with a smile and a desire to make your property experiences enjoyable.
Yours in Property