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Moving Beyond Schmoozing to Value-Add

Updated: Apr 10

Building strong relationships with prospects and clients is the cornerstone of business success. However, many sellers and client-facing professionals fall into the trap of thinking that relationship building is all about schmoozing or surface-level charm. In reality, the key to effective relationship building lies in providing genuine yet brain-friendly value-add at an appropriate pace. Let's explore why focusing on value creation is crucial and how it differs from mere schmoozing.

The Pitfalls of Schmoozing

Before we dive in further, let's review some definitions first. Rapport-building centers on genuine interest, empathy, and understanding of the other person's thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Schmoozing, on the other hand, refers to engaging in overly-ingratiating conversation, typically with the intention of gaining favor, advancing one's interests, or creating a favorable impression. Often associated with superficial charm or flattery, schmoozing can create a false sense of rapport. While initial pleasantries and friendly banter have their place, relying solely on schmoozing tactics can lead to several pitfalls:

  1. Short-Term Focus: Schmoozing is often transactional and short-term oriented, centered around closing a deal or a transaction rather than building a lasting relationship.

  2. Lack of Substance: Surface-level interactions may lack depth and fail to address the client's real needs and challenges. They are also often loaded with assumptions and preconceived notions that stand in the way of genuine relationship-building and honest communications.

  3. Perceived Inauthenticity: The brain is highly attuned to verbal and nonverbal cues such as facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and gestures. When someone expresses genuine emotions, their facial expressions and vocal tone align with their feelings, triggering empathetic responses in the audience. In contrast, inauthentic emotions can come across as exaggerated or mismatched, leading to a sense of discomfort or distrust in the brain of the receiver.

The Power of Value-Add

On the other hand, value-add in relationship building involves going beyond superficial interactions to deliver tangible benefits, insights, and solutions that genuinely benefit the other side. Here's why it's essential:

  1. Enables Reciprocal Engagement: Reciprocity is a fundamental social norm driven by the brain's response to receiving value. When individuals experience value-add from others, they are more inclined to reciprocate, leading to a cycle of mutual benefit and collaboration.

  2. Generates Attention & New Perspective: Value-adding, if done well, usually prompts the other side to consider alternative perspectives or solutions. This shift in perspective interrupts established thought patterns and encourages attention, creativity, and collaboration.

  3. Drives Motivation for Change: Value-adding can inspire new behaviors or actions in your prospects that deviate from their routine patterns. Whether through encouragement, inspiration, or incentives, it motivates individuals to step out of their comfort zones and embrace positive change.

  4. Establishing Positive Associations: Value-adding creates positive associations and experiences, breaking negative or neutral patterns that may exist about sellers or sales in general.

Strategies for Providing Value-Add

To effectively incorporate value-add into relationship building, consider the following strategies:

  1. Transparency and Integrity: Be transparent in your dealings, communicate openly, and uphold high ethical standards to build trust and credibility. If you're there to talk business, then say so. Do the thing that you say you'd do.

  2. Appropriate Pace: Building genuine rapport involves establishing a connection at a pace that allows both parties to develop mutual understanding and trust naturally. Same goes for providing value-add. Providing value-add at an appropriate pace involves gradually unveiling insights, solutions, and benefits. This approach enhances the perceived value of what is offered, activating the brain's reward centers.

  3. Autonomy and Agency: Position your solution as ONE option or an added idea for them to consider as they ponder the tools, knowledge, or resources they believe they require. This fosters a sense of autonomy and self-initiative.


In conclusion, effective rapport-building in sales is not about superficial charm or schmoozing but about delivering genuine value-add each and every time you intersect with your prospects or clients. By understanding client needs and how the brain receives information, sellers can create more meaningful interactions and forge connections that drive mutual success.


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