No Single Encounter Beats Nurturing (And Why You Should Be More Like Richard Nixon)

Anthony Iannarino
Post by Anthony Iannarino
April 2, 2010

If you have read this blog for anytime, you know that it stands for the practice and execution of the fundamentals that lead to success in sales, and it is opposed to gimmicks, tricks, shortcuts, and secrets of all kinds.

There is no doubt that toughest prospects to engage are your dream clients. They typically spend a lot of money in your category, and they almost always have relationships with one of your competitors, relationships that provide a seemingly insurmountable barrier to an opportunity to compete.

Too often we approach prospects as if a single encounter will allow us to overcome these barriers and gain an opportunity. We search for gimmicks, tricks, shortcuts, and secrets instead of doing the heavy lifting that is nurturing relationships.

The Duality of the Sales Encounter: Meaningful vs. Transactional

Each and every time we come into contact with our clients or prospects, we have an opportunity to make that encounter meaningful. We have a chance to create value, and more still, we have an opportunity to develop the relationships that lead to success in sales. Because this is true, we are obligated to behave as if every sales encounter is a valuable chance to advance towards a sale. We have to behave as if this encounter is the make or break encounter.

But not every sales encounter advances a deal, especially when it comes to prospecting. Outside of actually closing a deal, prospecting is the activity that salespeople most want to result in a commitment to advance towards a sale. It is because we want so badly to move forward, that we enter into this activity with a transactional mindset: we want to say something or do something that will result in a willingness to move forward.

Prospecting with a transactional mindset means believing that there is something that you can say that will cause the prospect to agree to move forward. The transactional mindset is what makes you want to pick up the phone after hearing “no,” and to call the prospect right back to say something different. You believe that saying something different, that doing a better job of overcoming objections, may have gotten a better result. The truth of the matter is that sometime there is nothing that you could have said to obtain the commitment that you wanted. Sometime the call doesn’t create enough value to obtain that commitment.

This is the duality: You have to make every encounter meaningful by bring you’re A-game, and you also have to know that no single transaction is as meaningful as nurturing a relationship over time. You have to believe that what you say and do can make a difference, and you have to know that a single transaction alone is, more often than not, not enough.

A Sales Lesson from Richard Nixon

A young Richard Nixon fell in love with Pat Ryan. Pat was anything but interested in Nixon. Nixon, not dissuaded by Pat dating other guys, found occasions to stop by her house unannounced and eventually began chauffeuring Pat and her boyfriends on their dates. The role of friend and chauffeur allowed Nixon to pick up Pat before the date and to drop her off after the date. Nixon used these opportunities to work on nurturing the friendship that eventually led to Pat agreeing to marry him.

It wasn’t a single event or conversation that gained Nixon his wife. It was the long, uncomfortable, and uncertain nurturing over time.

Now don’t think I have gone soft here or that I am saying relationships are everything. In sales, a great relationship without the ability to generate real results and outcomes isn’t going to be enough to win you deals. But all else being equal, the relationship is a rock solid differentiator and deal winner. These relationships aren’t built on a single encounter.

And remember, Nixon knew what we he wanted and he stayed the course—even when he had no reason to believe that his nurturing would result in something more.


Every sales encounter brings the possibility of a breakthrough in advancing towards a sale. But the real breakthroughs are more often found through the long and meaningful nurturing of relationships. Each sales encounter has to be treated as if it might lead to a breakthrough, and it must also be treated as a simple opportunity to nurture and build a future opportunity. More often than not, no single encounter beats patient and determined nurturing.


Do you treat every encounter as if it is an opportunity to advance towards a sale and an opportunity to nurture the relationship?

Do you spend enough time and energy nurturing your dream clients to improve your chances of advancing towards a sale when you do speak with them?

Are you putting your time in nurturing the dream clients that you really want even when it looks hopeless, or are you treating your calls like they are simply transactions that will lead to results if you use the right gimmicks, tricks, shortcuts, or secrets?

Sales 2010
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 2, 2010
Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an author of four books on the modern sales approach, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. Anthony posts here daily.
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