The Secret to Sales Success Lies In the Human Connection

Jane Sarles Larson
Jane Sarles Larson

Two sales professionals connecting

Maya Angelou was a giant personality of deep wisdom, humor and warmth. She had a unique ability to connect with people from all walks of life by exuding genuine interest, understanding and above all, warmth. She lived by her own adage, “People won’t remember what you said or did; they will remember how you made them feel.”

You don’t need to reach superstardom to connect with your customers and prospects. Humanity is in itself a door opener. Are you focused on the numbers, exceeding the next goal, looking for more margin? Or are you thinking about the best way to help your client solve a business issue that’s hurting her profitability?

Rob Jackson, former VP of Marketing and Sales for the Atlanta Falcons, said it this way.

“Happiness, success and sales deals happen a lot more frequently when you spend more time being interested in others, rather than trying to get them interested in you.”

Having Connections When You’re Prospecting Can Work Magic

A friend of mine is a wizard at getting decision-makers to call him back. Most of his current success comes from years of building friendships with people he’s done business with in the past. Bob is a good listener, and he shows sincere interest when he’s talking to you. In turn, many people feel connected to him, and true friendships grow.

Related: The tactics salespeople put into play to make customer relationships flourish can make all the difference. But which tactics are the most effective? Find out how to amplify sales relationships with these no-nonsense tactics.

When prospecting for new business, Bob starts by targeting industries where he has experience and personal connections. He does his homework, and when he identifies a company with a business issue he can solve, he reaches out to his network for referrals and coaching.

His next step is to make a connection between his prospective buyers and himself by tailoring his letters to their specific role. (Yes, letters, because they stand out from the clutter of email.) For example, one of the executives he was targeting had recently won a significant award. He mentioned this in his introductory letter to her while skillfully demonstrating his knowledge of her company and the telecommunications industry. He also provided an idea on how he could help them resolve their business issues.

As a result, this key executive responded to his access letter. She told Bob that her SVP had also received a letter from him and both were intrigued. During the call, he talked about an assessment approach and how important this step is to developing the right solution to meet their objectives.

Based on the assessment approach, he suggested they “make their first meeting the second meeting” by starting with a team of experts. The prospective clients agreed and the magic of finding a business fit and making more connections between the two organizations began.

Applying the Human Connection to Business

Connections are made when an emotional bond between two or more people happens. And the more connections you can make between your organization and your clients’, the “stickier” your business with them will be.  

According to the Harvard Business Review, “On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers.” The article goes on to say that these customers are more loyal and tend to buy more of a company’s products and services with less price sensitivity as well. Besides, it’s hard to quit a business when many friendships are involved.

Human connection is actually a neuroscientific phenomenon. In his new book, Social, Matthew Lieberman explains that peoples’ “need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water.” But if we are wired to connect, what’s the implication?

Selling is truly about building and leveraging the human connection. Start with listening and understanding your client’s and prospective client’s viewpoints and needs. Work to find common ground or interests. Be genuine in your effort to resolve their issues in order to achieve their business goals. Above all, really care.

It works like a charm.


“I enjoyed the meetings, too. It was like having friends.”

― Luna Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Jane Sarles Larson

Jane Sarles Larson

As the Research Manager for ITA Group’s Marketing Strategy, Jane is on the forefront of market research and thought leadership. Her interest in neuroscience and how it applies to human behavior and engagement has led to the development of ITA Group’s approach to motivation called Motivology. Her 30+ years of international advertising, sales and marketing experience is second only to her knowledge of dark chocolate.