Buyer Intelligence

Breaking Down Sales Relationships Using Romcom Tropes

Ask any top sales rep what their secret is, and they’ll tell you – in some way, shape, or form – that it’s all about relationships. Yet, navigating sales relationships can be perplexing for most people. Who is my buyer? What does my product mean to them? What’s my equation with them?

The questions are endless. Well, I say let’s put an end to it today.

How a Romcom Helped Me Understand My Buyer Better

Look, I was no different. A few years ago, when I was in business development, I was working with a buyer most salespeople would call a tough prospect. We were in a ridiculously long-drawn sales conversation where he would alternate from high product-conviction to extreme doubt, switching his point of view almost every meeting.

Understandably, I was scratching my head, trying to figure out how to put the deal together. Finally, I took a break and decided to watch a rerun of F.R.I.E.N.D.S to take some steam off. And boy what an epiphany I had!

Me and my buyer, we were Ross and Rachel. I realized that all the “will they, won’t they” could only ever lead to anticlimactic sitcom hilarity. So I decided to let go of that opportunity and I’ve been sleeping better ever since.

I now recognize that it’s easier to understand sales relationships if we dissociate and take a step back. And what better way to take a step back? Having grown up watching all kinds of romantic comedies, from the cheesy kind to the cheesiest kind, I’ve learnt a lot about myself, the world, and my relationship with it, through these glorious stories full of relatable cliches. And of course, that includes sales too. After all, romance and sales both have a few things in common: prospects, pursuit, and the dopamine hit of getting what you’re after.

Without further ado, here are some common sales relationships seen through the lens of popular romance tropes.

1. The Love Triangle… in Sales Relationships

Did you immediately think of movies like Hunger Games, Leap Year, and She’s the Man? If you think this is an overused trope in movies, wait till you realize how often it comes up in sales.

The Love Triangle in The Hunger Games

When a prospective buyer is on the quest for something, as they typically are, and there are two parties competing to win them over, your competitor is the other suitor. Do you stand a chance against them? Make your case! You only get one chance. Unless…

2. The Second Chance… in Sales Relationships

Remember The Notebook’s legendary rain scene? The one that kept the hopeless romantics pining and chanting: “It wasn’t over. It still isn’t over.”

The Second Chance in Sales Relationships

It’s possible that your buyer tried what you had to offer back in the day and simply wasn’t ready for it. But since you went your different ways, you’ve both evolved, and today, you’re a better match than you could ever imagine. So go ahead and pursue that old flame of a buyer today, and remember – your heart can’t be broken twice.

3. The Meet Cute… in Sales Relationships

Before Sunrise, Annie Hall, 500 days of summer, and I’m only just getting started. Bridesmaids, 50 First Dates, Notting Hill, I could link at least 10 iconic GIFs here to drive home my point, but I’m not sure my editor would let that fly.

The meet cute in sales relationships

But my point is this: cliches are cliche because they work. The strategically placed meet-cute in a romcom’s first act is almost as essential to a movie as its opening credits. Now there’s an unwritten rule in these movies: no matter how things turn out along the way, as long as it started with a meet cute, there’s a good chance there’s a happy ending too.

So remember to make your first moment count. Even with your buyers. Especially with your buyers.

4. The Player Falls in Love… in a Sales Context

Crazy, stupid, love, am I right? Did you see what I did there, reader?

The player falls in love: in a sales relationships context

Players look cool from a distance, but the closer you get, the lesser you trust them. In this trope, a player settles for a love that is healthy and abundant, instead of chasing instant rush after instant rush.

Now, in sales, if your buyer thinks you’re the same way with every prospect, you’ve got an uphill battle my friend. So treat every buyer like they’re the only one you’ve got. Show them you know them.

5. Friends to Lovers… in Sales Relationships

Finally, we have the cynical friends to lovers trope in films like When Harry Met Sally. We also can not ignore the two notable R-rated films in this category; y’know… THOSE two films, even if they switched places with each other, you couldn’t tell the difference: No Strings Attached and Friends With Benefits.

Now why does this trope feel so good? Because it’s the closest one to reality. You don’t get meet-cutes every day. You don’t get players falling in love all that often either. But friends to lovers, now that’s something that’s happened to most of us at some point.

How does this translate to sales? The only way to close a massive deal is to win your buyer over, gradually, then suddenly. Almost all of social selling is a living embodiment of the friends to lovers trop.

What did we miss?

Welp, that brings us to a close. I hope this was a comprehensive list, but if I missed anything here, please assume that it’s intentional and that it’s the one that got away.

If you’d like to understand your buyer (which salesperson wouldn’t), it’s always good to take a step back. I’d be flattered if you came back to this blog post to make sense of it, but it’s even better if you lean back in your chair and let Humantic AI do its magic.

I'm a programmer turned pro-grammar. I write all sorts of things: stories, songs, scripts, and strongly worded tweets to customer care handles.

Write A Comment