- September 5, 2023
- Posted by: Dave Kurlan
- Category: Understanding the Sales Force
Last week, I posted an article on the Impact of Relationship Building Challenges in Sales. The article explored what happens to salespeople who are skilled at selling, but aren’t very good at building relationships, as well as those who are great at building relationships, but aren’t very skilled at selling. While there were some terrific insights, the one thing that was missing from the article was what great relationship builders do that everyone else fails to do.
Also last week, we celebrated the life of my best friend, Matt Hogan, who passed away on Friday, August 25. Today’s article will pay tribute to Matt, the best relationship builder I have ever known, I’ll share the 10 things Matt did to build strong, lasting relationships, as well as ten things I learned from Matt.
Matt became a personal client of mine at Kurlan & Associates back in 1986 – 37 years ago – when his then packaging supply company sales team attended a public sales training seminar I was leading. Over time we became best friends.
As a strong relationship builder, Matt did the following ten things:
- He was selfless – it wasn’t about him. He would share if you asked but he was in your life for your benefit.
- He wanted you to feel good and he would say something funny to make sure you did.
- He wanted to learn more about you and what you had going on in your life. He might not have been able to do what you were doing but was sure glad you could.
- He felt joy from your happiness and empathized with your problems and challenges. Sometimes his response or words of wisdom would sound more like a fortune cookie.
- He checked in often which was the only way our relationship worked because I’m awful at relationship building.
- He always asked what he could do for you. If he couldn’t help, he knew a guy who knew a guy. You know, relationships!
- He expected nothing in return. You could do nice things for Matt and he would appreciate it but you did it because you wanted to, not because he wanted you to.
- For 21 years, he called our son on his birthday and sang both verses of Happy Birthday. As our son went through high school and college, he appreciated the second verse (you smell like a monkey and look like one too) even more.
- This was not a one off with me – Matt’s relationships were like this with everyone.
- To show that he was all in on our son’s life (Uncle Matt to him), he made the five-hour trip with his wife Laurie to spend three days in Cooperstown, NY, watching our then twelve-year-old son compete in a weeklong 12U tournament.
It is important to note that this is NOT networking. I know great networkers but their relationships are shallow. It is also important to know that I was not part of Matt’s network. I was his best friend. This was also not a friend or buddy group. We were individually his friends and the friends didn’t gather except for perhaps a Super Bowl party years ago.
Ten lessons or take aways come to mind as I write this article and these will be my tribute to Matt:
- Matt called while our then ten-year-old son was having a temper tantrum. Upon learning about this Matt said, “Davey, you need to understand that he is just as close to four as he is to sixteen and you’ll continue to see glimpses of all three ages.
- When Matt’s kids were younger, he NEVER missed a sporting or academic event. He was my model for doing the same when our son was playing sixty to one-hundred baseball games a year. He was also WAY ahead of his time, manually color coding his calendar by hand so he could quickly identify the events for each kid. This was years before calendar applications could do that. I was all over that when the time came for us.
- Matt and I joked about everything because we both believed in not taking ourselves too seriously. But he also believed there was a time to be serious and that time was when he counted steps – not like we do today with health apps – between the hole and his golf ball. I learned you must never interrupt step-counting.
- Matt was always positive – right up to his final day – and when you asked him how he was feeling he would always give you a number between eleven and fifteen (on a zero to ten scale).
- Despite his business, social and financial successes, his greatest achievement was raising his four great kids.
- Matt believed Christmas should be enjoyed year round. He was singing Christmas carols with his family right up until he passed away, he was buried in his favorite Christmas tie, and his best friends all wore the most appropriate of his Christmas ties to Matt’s funeral.
- When Matt’s dad died unexpectedly, he struggled mourning his death for years. He didn’t want his oldest son Mike to experience anything like that so he arranged for Mike to pre-mourn his death by having weekly one-on-ones with him.
- If you were to look up what it meant to act Presidentially, you would see a picture of Matt. I’m still learning to act Presidential.
- Matt was also a stickler for paying attention to the details. I’m way behind him on this important capability and probably won’t master it.
- He believed that life should be lived in stages. When he turned sixty he announced that he had entered the philanthropic stage of his life. You could do a lot worse in life than being philanthropic.
Rest in peace Matt. We love you. Please ask God to work his magic and fix whatever ails the Red Sox.
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