Business Development is Like Dating

I’ve used the analogy before, but more and more, life proves how true it really is – business development (sales) is just like dating. Think about it for a minute. In business development, you fantasy about that dream client, you’re building a relationship based on your past experiences, and you’re looking for a long-term relationship.
  • Networking – Going to a chamber or association networking event is just like going to a bar when you’re single. You know most relationships do not start at a bar, but you still go because it could start something down the road. You’re looking to extend your network and find the right person. 
  • Unwritten Rules – Just like dating, there are unwritten rules about negotiating from who gives a price first and how long do you wait for that first call.
  • Promises – At first, you’re trying to feel each other out and not commit to much.
  • Commitment – A client is committed to you just like a significant boyfriend/girlfriend. You can take things to the next level and “move in”– it takes time and trust.
  • Ups & Downs – Every relationship, personal and in business, has its ups and downs. A true relationship will overcome the valleys because both parties are in it for the long haul. Relationships take maintenance; you can not take the other party for granted.
  • Fit – When looking for a spouse or a new vendor, you look for someone that compliments you and fits your needs. In business, its about fitting your team personality while on the personal side, this would be your quirky family.

In the end, you are looking for the perfect match where the other party may not be perfect, but they’re perfect for you. This business isn’t transactional and if your construction company does work project-to-project, it is usually long-term projects so you don’t want to fake your personality in the proposal phase, otherwise known as courtship. If you fake your personality then, you have to continue to fake it or let your client down. Think about how many people are fake with their boyfriend/girlfriend at first and then it all crashes down on them. The same thing happens in business, but instead of a broken heart, it can cost millions of dollars.

When you’re working on that proposal, the first step is the Go/No Go decision when you ask yourself/your team, “Do we want to work with this client the next 2-3 years doing this kind of work?” Also ask yourself, “Are we the right fit for this client?” and “Do we want more work like this?” If you answer no to these questions, you probably shouldn’t date, I mean work with, this client.