Justin Donald Leader

Benefits Professional
  • Relationship – Survival of the Sincerest

    Apr 23, 2015

by Justin Leader


“Survival of the fittest” is a term commonly referred to in evolutionary discussions. This theory coined by Herbert Spencer and based on the work of Charles Darwin involves the “fittest” of the species ultimately dominating the “unfit”. Those superior in their environment being able to outdo everyone and everything they encounter. It reminds me of my first sales manager that literally drove me nuts. From his perspective, it was kill or be killed. You wake up, you attack the day and you take down as many of the “weak” prospects that you can. Get them done, get the money in and move on. I believe a lot of the old school mentality is stuck in this mindset regarding the turnover of business. Sadly, I also think that this mentality has never ultimately worked in the long term and will not work as we move into a new age.

Dale Carnegie would roll over in his grave if he knew some of the things that I have heard while out in my travels. Recently I was at a conference in Atlantic City where I was speaking on the subject of relationship based selling. I overheard a vendor standing behind me state the following, “We keep our clients, just happy enough so they don’t leave.” I almost fell out of my chair. Who says this? Why would anyone want to do “just enough”? I will never understand the mentality of some people in business or with those who possess this attitude regarding life and relationships.

Perhaps it’s the survivor in me, that non-traditional upbringing where I had to judge people fairly quickly so I could understand if they were friend or foe. I always felt that there were two factors that I focused on and I believe are crucial in relationships, be it personal or professional. These are sincerity and intent.

As a child of adoption, I discovered who in this world was sincere and who was insincere relatively quickly. Honestly, I think most of us can pick up on these after the first meeting or two with someone. I have found that sincerity translates to innocence and hence trustworthiness. Intent on the other hand is something that is learned with time.

Finding out one’s true intentions is something that requires more patience and understanding of who that person is at their deepest core. Now, I am not saying that one should question the intentions of every person they meet but for me, understanding who a person is deep down is very important. It should be for us all.

I think we all love to buy, we love to do business. I love to buy and I love to sell. Thus comes the distinction between being sold and being taken advantage of. I remember a time not too long ago that I felt I was taken advantage of in a business transaction. I arrived at a suit store to purchase a suit. I recognized one of the salesmen from a networking function I had attended recently. He was a nice, outgoing younger guy who was eager to get me fitted. I was promised a sale, as well as to be taken care of and I felt the person was sincere. We chatted as I tried on a few suits and I could tell he was trying to really connect with me. I laid down my card to finalize my purchase and was a bit taken back but what I saw. I realized that I fell victim to a bait and switch. The price was much higher than I anticipated. I asked him if there was an error and he said no. I explained to him that during our conversation he was to sell me the suits that were on special that month, his response was “won’t you like these better?” Obviously it is not what I wanted nor what we agreed upon. As I left I responded simply with a phrase I have uttered for years now “Sell for the relationship, not for the commission.”

Can you imagine if we did good things for good people? If we peeled those layers back to discover more about those we interact with? I have heard many people say that sales is a science or an art, or both. I would have to say it is more of a process than anything. A process of understanding. Understanding the wants and needs of both parties in the process. I, the seller, just might have a solution to the buyers wants and needs whether the buyer is aware or not at the time of our first interaction. It’s about discovery, about building, solving, and compromise but above all understanding. Approaching sales from a position of integrity, having honest conversations and being real is as good as it gets. Doing so will never bring into question your values or character.

In sales, we all have goals. We have to pound the pavement, make cold calls, email, use social media, set appointments and utilize all the other tools we have available to make new connections happen while fostering on-going relationships. I am not saying there is a magic bullet aside from these character traits that must be present. From my perspective as I look around at those who are succeeding and growing in business, it isn’t so much survival of the sincerest, it is quickly becoming apparent that only the sincere have and will survive.