stages of relationships

The 4 Relationship Stages – By Nick E. Delis, Area VP Eastern USA and Canada

In my experience, stuff happens! Nothing ever goes smooth… and I’m not talking about marriage. Well, at least not traditional marriage. Business relationships are similar to getting married. Learning the different stages of dating, the engagement, marriage, and the family expansion. Let’s take a journey.




When you first meet your prospective client you are trying to size each other up. Do they like to go hiking? Do they want to go out to dinner? Are they a baseball fan like the photo above? What it really comes down to what can my company do to resolve my prospect’s business issues? Can we help optimize the current business landscape, maybe even give our prospect a quick return on their investment if they choose us as a business partner? It really is like dating. Our client knows if they want to proceed by the first date / interaction. So it’s important to get this one right.


In my 20 plus years of sales experience, not counting peddling church raffle tickets (that would make it 40 years), I have found that real discussions build a great relationship. What is a real discussion? I’m not talking about a canned corporate pitch, anyone can do that. My go-to is: Be real, be genuine, and gain trust!




Now that we have built expertise and trust, the customer is ready to get engaged, taking the next steps in the relationship. Where do we live, my place our yours? Can I keep my couch? Can I keep that torn shirt from my high school football days at Polk High (where I scored 4 touchdowns, not in one season, but in one game)?


The engagement level comes down to more than trust, it’s also about delivering. Delivering “the vision.” The vision is client centric, delivered with trust and expertise. Accomplishing this makes it tough for others competitors to engage. It’s not all about price, but about value and delivery.


Once you deliver the vision that is a client centric solution, it becomes time to take the engagement to the next level, marriage.




You have as the Greeks say, “Pikres” (pee-kres) and “Glikes” (glee-kes). The “Pikres” are the sour times and the “Glikes” are the sweet. You have to work at a marriage. Give and take. Happiness and sadness.


A flawless implementation is a pipe dream. That is why the relationship building in the dating and engagement stage is so important. A great relationship can be accomplished. It takes hard work, transparent communication, and most of all trust and execution.




What’s next… well, family expansion of course! By now your relationship has experienced some mutual growth together. Some Pikres and Glikes. So, the next step is key… using your industry expertise and relationships. Help your business partner excel! Take them to the next level. The ROI is the start, but the true test is expansion of the clients business. Now that’s a relationship. Know what they want to be and help them execute.


In summary, a great relationship is hard to accomplish. It takes work. Using expertise, execution, transparency, and most importantly gaining the trust of your client is the key.

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