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Published:June 6th, 2008 13:39 EST
Make a Friend

Make a Friend

By Joel G. Block (Mentor/Columnist)

People ask me regularly how they can increase their sales and their productivity in the field when making calls on both customers and prospects. I tell them it`s the simplest formula in the world - just go out with the attitude of making a friend. When you go to a trade show, don`t go there to find customers, to find vendors or to find suppliers: go there with the intention of making friends, because friendships are what ultimately turn into long-term vendor and supplier relationships, and customer relationships as well.

This lesson may be best exemplified by a seemingly unrelated situation that occurred recently. My son, who was 14 at the time, walked into my home office. He had a bewildered look on his face. He closed the door behind him and said he wanted to talk to me in private. He said "Dad, how do I talk to girls?" He looked very serious, and then he said "I`m serious. I want to know how to talk to girls."

I looked back to him and I said "the first thing you have to do is to think of girls like people, not like aliens from another planet. If you think of them like aliens, you`ll never succeed in getting them to talk to you. You have to become friends."

For those of us with years of experience, it may sometime seem like women are actually aliens from another planet! But my son needs to approach members of the opposite sex like business people work with vendors, suppliers and prospects. In all cases, we have to make it our goal to be friends.

By using the "Make a Friend" formula, I`ve succeeded not only in creating a robust business that generates significant income, but also one that generates referral business and leads far in excess of the amount of work that I could possibly ever handle. Even if I farmed out all the business that comes my way to a team of experts, I probably couldn`t capture everything that my referral network provides to me. And I have this outstanding referral network because my goal in life is to make friends.

This style suits me well because I am friendly and I like to be friendly.most of the time.

My goal with everyone in my network is to be their friend. My goal is to help them. I give whatever I have to give and make sure that they get what they need. Because once they have what they need and they start to succeed and become more productive, it can`t help but come back to me. Frequently, it doesn`t come back to me directly from them; the payback is not necessarily one to one. Frequently, the payback comes from somebody else - from a very different line of business. This is what people refer to as a "Pay It Forward" relationship.

It is very common that the person whom I`ve given a referral to is not going to see the same kind of business that would make good sense for me. And I don`t expect this person to feel any sense of debt to me. I`ll provide that person with referrals all day long, whether or not I think they can refer the business back because I know that someone else is doing the same for me.

The same is true in selling. Don`t be so concerned about closing. Don`t be so concerned about cold calling; and don`t be so concerned about pounding prospects into submission. When you make a cold call, call the person with the intention of making a friend. Call the person as if you`ve known them from kindergarten and you just want to talk to an old friend.

When you use this approach, not only does your level of stress drop like a rock, but the surprise on the other side of the phone or the other side of the desk will be so dramatic for that person that they`ll be significantly interested in what you have to say.

So, as you are working hard every day to build your company, or as you`re building your career, let people know who you are. Show your best side and plan to make as many friends in business as you can. It will pay off for you in a way that you can`t imagine right now. It works whether you are trying to talk to prospects or even to girls.

About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc.

Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker and advisor. To bring Joel into your company, please visit or Also, be sure to check out our newest project: a blog to organize the blogs that cover entrepreneurship -