From Publishers Weekly
Acuff, president of the Delta Leadership Group, believes that everyone can succeed at any livelihood by mastering the art of relationships. Acuff, who had a long career in pharmaceutical sales, defines the three keys to "relationship edge" as having the right mindset, asking the right questions and doing the right thing. The book develops these principles and uses real-life examples to show readers what types of behavior and conversations lead to success. For example, a sales person can offer to help a prospective customer without pitching a particular product, and often, because of this "goodwill," the would-be client ends up a steady customer. An employee at a large company makes a point of treating everyone equally, sending birthday greetings to staff in different departments. When her position is eliminated, she has a number of colleagues she can ask for help in finding a new job. Acuff says that asking other people about their lives outside of work is often a crucial step in forming a lasting business relationship. He includes a list of questions designed to stimulate conversation including "What do you do when you're not working?" "Do you actually get to see any teams play?" and "Where is your favorite place to vacation?" The author's reliance on quotes from just a handful of people, generally not well known, is a little tiresome, but overall, Acuff's casual, low-key writing style is appealing. The book should be particularly helpful to less experienced business people, who are more likely to try the recommended strategies than seasoned executives.
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Most organizations train their sales staff to focus on product features and benefits and neglect the crucial aspect of building long-term relationships with clients. Acuff, president of Delta Leadership Group, uses a sincere approach in his practice of forming lasting relationships with others without keeping score or expecting paybacks. This spreading of goodwill is like the sowing of seeds that will sprout to benefit both your business and personal life. He introduces the "Relationship Pyramid," with the largest group of relative strangers at the bottom and people who highly value your relationship at the top. Getting to the top of the "Relationship Pyramid" is a long-term proposition, and you have to put in the time and effort to get others to respect you or bond with you. Acuff suggests getting to know your clients better by getting them to talk about their favorite subject--themselves. He offers 20 questions designed to get people to open up, discusses ways to alleviate shyness, and suggests the sharing of a meal. A refreshing break from the winner-take-all approach to salesmanship. David SiegfriedCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved