This time of year, especially, giving and receiving command a lot of attention. In business we all pursue these activities throughout the year, though perhaps more along the lines of “give and get” or “give and take.”

Unfortunately, business in general is too often perceived as emphasizing the getting rather than the giving. That’s not surprising, but is it fair? Even though a common thread among three key business-building functions-sales, negotiations, and referrals-is in fact getting others to do what we want them to, there’s more to the story.

Overlooked, we believe, is the simple truth that getting in business is made possible by another, always-present force: giving or, from our perspective, creating value.

Business can’t be conducted if both sides don’t give and receive. In business schools, it’s known as “exchanging value.” The conventional perspective is that a “fair exchange of value” can, and should be, the goal of selling, negotiation, and referrals. Both seller and buyer should “win.”

We’ve learned-and we teach-how to take that conventional thinking a step further. As readers of this column and graduates of our FOCIS® consultative selling course know, our experience is that in selling the best way to give value is to create it during the sales process. Value can also be created during the negotiation and the referrals processes by using essentially the same communication skills taught in FOCIS®.

Ask yourself these questions to learn if you have the necessary communications skills or need to develop them:


Are you as good at developing business as you are at doing your job?]

For some, business development is not their main function. But they are expected to bring in business nonetheless. Better communication and persuasion skills will help here.

Do you get your fair share of new business from referrals?

While other forms of marketing and business development bring in business, most professional service firms, for example, do get a significant amount from referrals-often as much as 70 to 80 percent. Companies in other industries also benefit from referrals.

Do you sometimes feel that your sales process is designed to get prospects to buy something they don’t really need?

Good news: That’s not selling, at least in our book. Bad news: That queasy feeling can keep you from even asking for the business.


Have you or your team been in shouting matches, lost business, or disrupted personal relationships?

No? Count yourself lucky. These problems often do occur and, in our experience, are almost always avoidable.

Do you end up compromising to reach superficial “win-win” settlements that might actually be losses?

The truth is that “win-win” today goes beyond compromise, sometimes way beyond. We help our clients achieve that goal by applying the consultative sales communications skills taught in our FOCIS Consultative Selling course to create value for both sides during the negotiation process.

Is negotiating so emotional for you that you are not comfortable or confident?

For example, do you get angry or discouraged when the other side attempts to commoditize your product or presses too hard for price concessions?


Are you unsure about the best way to get referrals?

Many, if not most, business people are. Actually, there are two productive ways. One, you ask the right people for referrals but also in the right way, at the right time, and for the right reasons. The other is to generate referrals without asking for them. Both ways involve creating value during the referrals process-just as in sales and negotiations. We teach both ways.

Is it uncomfortable-even impossible-for you to turn social interactions into business opportunities?

We’ve all faced this challenge at one time or another. Yet it can be done effectively in a way that leaves both parties feeling good about it because they both realize value.

Do you have a repeatable process to generate referrals?

Just as increasing sales isn’t magic, neither is increasing referrals. The very best business developers do have a process that can be taught.

After nearly 25 years of helping companies and individuals increase the topline, we’ve developed highly effective solutions to the challenges in all three areas. The common thread? Building your ability to give the “best business gift ever” in this, or any season. We teach you how to create value in nearly every business interaction, whether brief or extended, and to ensure that customers, prospects, and colleagues recognize and appreciate that value.

In addition, we’ve developed a complimentary, 30-to-60 minute process to determine with you which of those solutions, if any, might meet your needs. The assessment process alone delivers real value-often eye-opening-by examining your concerns from a truly different perspective.

The courses themselves are . . .

  • FOCIS® Selling where we upgrade consultative selling skills, create custom sales processes, and coach you on making the most of existing new business opportunities
  • FOCIS® Negotiating where we present major negotiating styles; cover major negotiating principles, including minute-to-minute tactics; develop skills through role plays and top-to-bottom case experiences-all based on the most recent and compelling research into how the most successful negotiators do their jobs.
  • Increasing Referrals, a half-day workshop that will explain and teach specific behaviors that produce more-and more productive-referrals as part of a repeatable process.

To learn more about creating value during the business development process, just get in touch with me at 847-446-0008, Extension 1, or You’ll see how developing this ability can be “the best gift ever” for your customers, your team, and-happily-you.  Why not do it now to get a leg up on your business development for 2018?

Editor’s Note: Because we believe its message is “evergreen,” a version of “The Best Gift Ever?” has appeared in this space before. We hope you’ll find it to be a valuable way to end this year and launch the next one. All the best for 2018!


Comments are closed.