Showing gratitude isn’t just a nice thing to do – it also makes an impact.
According to a study by Harvard, “expressing gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
You may already be aware of this phenomenon and benefit from it in your personal life by demonstrating appreciation for your family, friends, and even colleagues. Keeping a gratitude journal, practicing meditation, or praying are other ways one can show appreciation.
There are missed opportunities when it comes to strategically utilizing appreciation and gratitude in the business world. To remedy this, we can nurture and fortify business relationships, grow sales funnels, and improve client relations just by introducing a little thankfulness.
If you want to grow sales, focus on growing relationships
James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, emphasizes that the key to achieving impressive professional and personal goals is all about establishing winning, repeatable systems and habits. By focusing on building and fortifying a strong path toward your goal, you will ensure that you’ll eventually reach your target destination. If you instead simply dream big and focus your attention on your goals themselves, you’re more likely to get overwhelmed, burn out or lose interest.
If we translate this thinking to sales goals, the key to success is rooted in identifying and implementing the right actions and processes – ones that will ultimately lead to the sales figures you desire.
These habits and systems should all be rooted in relationship building – great relationships are fundamental to securing, growing and maintaining sales. And relationship building always ultimately comes back to appreciation, respect and gratitude.
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How to leverage appreciation in sales
How do we begin to leverage the science of appreciation to transform our relationships, and ultimately, our sales? We attach rigor and discipline to our appreciation and gratitude practices. We establish repeatable processes that can be utilized with every new and existing relationship to differentiate ourselves from other sales representatives and colleagues, making us more memorable and more deeply valued.
Impressive sales don’t happen without impressive relationship skills. And impressive relationship skills don’t just happen because you’re a people person, or because you’re naturally charismatic or friendly. It may sound calculating, but begin using emotional intelligence more strategically and methodically to win a competitive advantage.
Here are three tips for doing just that.
1. Go above and beyond for those who refer leads
We all understand the value of a good referral, and many of us rely on them to generate our best leads to new business. Of course we’re going to be grateful to those colleagues, friends, and customers who take the time to refer us out, but we don’t always follow through with actually demonstrating our gratitude.
Rarely are we fully capitalizing on these golden opportunities to truly differentiate ourselves. Try investing the time and effort to maintain these relationships. The next time you receive a referral of any type – even just a quick email or LinkedIn introduction – make a note of the referral source’s name and details, as well as the timing, so that you can keep track of them and record each instance of contact.
Showing your gratitude may include a handwritten thank-you card or a small gesture (e.g. a cup of coffee to kick start the day), both of which will go farther than a simple thank-you email. You can also identify introductions and referrals you could make for them over time and use those introductions as opportunities for ongoing follow-up and connection. This is just a starting point that demonstrates how your referral sources can be transformed into warm ongoing relationships.
2. Periodically pop up to surprise and delight
To grow your relationships and stay top of mind for your key contacts, be sure to touch base with them periodically over time. Most sales leaders do this only once or twice at the outset of a relationship, or they rely solely on emails or phone calls to express their ongoing appreciation for the relationship. Instead, differentiate yourself by surprising and delighting your contacts on a long-term basis. Your touchpoints should be both well-timed and creative in nature.
An example can be sending a small household item (something that you have found useful in your own home), a movie night for much needed family time, or a bottle of wine mailed to the contact’s home. Be sure to thank them again for your relationship. Thoughtful gestures like this can truly move the needle when it comes to building lasting and fruitful relationships.
While the time and money investment may seem significant, especially when stretched across potentially dozens or hundreds of relationships, I’ve seen these types of appreciation gestures pay off tenfold or a hundredfold. You could try testing the system for yourself with a small pilot group of 15–20 high value contacts, and initiate a schedule of creative touchpoints for each. You can record the outcomes over time, and then expand your system if this proves successful for you.
3. Automate most of your non-relational tasks
The final tip is related to all the other work you do each day: the tedious parts of a sales role – building target lists, completing data entry tasks, filing, organizing, scheduling and more.
Start by taking note of all the various tasks that keep your machine running but aren’t directly related to the relationship building work that forms the foundation of your sales funnel. From there, you can brainstorm ways to automate, delegate or outsource these tasks.
An example would be utilizing a scheduling tool to automatically scan your calendar for openings and fill them, limiting or eradicating the need for going back and forth via email to confirm meetings.
It’s great to be grateful
The bottom line is you only have so many hours in the workday; it’s critical that you’re focusing on the tasks that are going to make the biggest difference to growing your sales.
But instead of just focusing on closing deals, you need to bring gratitude to the table. Insert that human element and watch how you grow as a sales professional.
“expressing gratitude helps people feel positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”
It’s true, our entire business is referral-based and we often show our appreciation to those who refer us to others. Sometimes it’s a handwrytten note or a gift basket and sometimes it’s some pro bono work we are doing for a referrer.