How Much For Your Trusted Relationships

Posted by Doug Davidoff

Sep 3, 2008 12:58:23 PM

It has often been said that sales is the world’s oldest profession (that’s just another form of sales.)  I’ve dedicated quite a bit of my life to help (in whatever way I can) professionalize the sales and marketing industry.  I’ve written about respecting your audience, telling the truth, doing something great, living up to your promises and simply doing good.

Every now and then, I see an example of bad selling that leaves me asking myself if I’m just “spitting into a headwind.”  Last week, a friend and a noted Web 2.0 expert, Craig Stoltz, pointed me in the direction of (in his words) a “new sales-focused social networking platform.”

I’m nervous about sharing the name of this company, for fear of the old PR axiom:  any press is good press, but I’ll risk it.  Salesconx is a new online social networking site that allows people to buy and sell individual leads.  It’s like traditional sales leads groups (where you trade your relationships with clients for other people’s relationships) with an online and monetary twist (think eBay).  Here, you get to auction your trusted relationships.

I understand how difficult it is to get the time and attention from qualified buyers.  I also understand the power of networking (though it is often practiced badly and becomes a significant time wasted) and how networking can support breaking down attention barriers.  I’ve even embraced many of today’s social media and “Web 2.0” applications.  I’ve always been nervous about them – hoping that their power would be used for good instead of evil.

However, as every day passes, I get increasingly concerned that the potential power that online capabilities bring to relationship building will actually make trusted relationships even more rare.  Whether it’s the misapplication of LinkedIn’s recommendations or best answers application (great intent, but today you have people offering to trade recommendations with each other or fixing best answers) to this newest application.

I get why someone would create Saleconx (and I even understand why someone might fund it).  I empathize with the unsuspecting salespeople who might be tempted to try to buy some access.  However, I cannot imagine who would actually sell the trust and respect of their clients, friends and associates. This act should qualify for Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Person In The World.”

Let me be clear – the trust and respect of your buyer’s, friends, and fans should be the most prized possession you have.  It’s called goodwill and if you look at any company that builds sustainable success, you’ll see that goodwill is the most valuable item on their balance sheet – even though you can’t touch it.  As difficult as it is to build it, it’s is nearly impossible (and extraordinarily expensive) to regain after you’ve you blown it (just look at Starbucks).

Salesconx is a BAD IDEA!!  As is the nature with most short cuts, whatever short-term gains it might bring, it will introduce tremendous long-term pain. Look, I know it’s tough to get the attention of your market today.  As I said, I empathize with the desire to find a short cut.  But please – PLEASE – don’t fall for this “fool’s gold.”  The reality is access that is sold so crassly will not have the implied value that a truly mutual beneficial introduction will have.  And, the more common this type of fake introduction becomes, the less valuable a real introduction will be (after all, how will the unsuspecting buyer know the difference).

There are only two reasons to utilize this type of interface.  If you don’t feel you have the capability to sell, or you don’t feel your offering is really worth anyone’s attention, then I guess you’ll have no choice but to use this type of platform.  If you fall into one of these two categories, please do me a favor – gain the skills or find a better offer to sell; but please – PLEASE – stop propagating the image of the salesperson who will do anything for a buck.

Topics: Inbound Marketing, B2B Sales Strategy