How Connection Works

Desmond Morris was a curious sort. He wanted to understand connection better. One day at the zoo, Desmond noticed how relationships evolved between mammals. Curious and curiouser, Desmond began to wonder if it was the same with people. Turns out, it is. If you want to see it in action, just find a cherry seat at your local watering hole on a Saturday night and watch how people progress through the early stages at lightning speed.

Here is the list Desmond made of the 12 Stages of Intimacy:

  1. Eye to body. You notice the person. You are interested.
  2. Eye to eye. Your eyes meet. You notice each other. You are interested in each other.
  3. Voice to voice. You talk. You call. You text. You email. This should be a pretty long stage. You start emotionally bonding.
  4. Hand to hand. You hold hands. It may be accidental touch that is kept in contact or deliberate. You are special.
  5. Hand to shoulder. You put your arm around their shoulder. This publicizes your relationship.
  6. Hand to waist. Your arms around each other’s waist. You know this person about as well as you know your best friend, and you like what you know.
  7. Face to face. You hug and kiss. You start physically bonding which is an extension of the emotional bond you have taken time to establish.
  8. Hand to head. You run your fingers through their hair. They cradle your face. You stroke their face. This shows a deepening trust.
  9. Hand to body. This is what I called second base as a teen. For obvious reasons, the following steps progress rapidly once started.
  10. Mouth to body.
  11. Touching below the waist. Third base.
  12. Intercourse. Home run especially if you have taken the time bond at the previous 11 steps.

As you recount how you met your spouse or partner, think back to each step and how long you stayed on each step. 70% of the time, following the stages in the order above – and allow sufficient time before progressing to the next step – results in long lasting, healthy relationships between partners.

It Turns Out Selling is Like That, Too

Those who couple up at the bar on Saturday night aren’t often destined for long term relationships. Sure, the sale is made, but there’s almost always buyer’s remorse. But what about those “connections” you make in sales? Does this sequence of sequential intimacy still apply?


In sales you could easily relate to the first 4 stages quite quickly, but the 5th stage is where the disconnect begins, so I’ve built my own list.

The 12 Stages of Loyal Buying:

  1. Identify: You notice a prospect either virtually or in person.
  2. First contact: You make eye contact or a virtual connection that is reciprocal.
  3. Connect: You have a mutually beneficial exchange of information.
  4. Shake hands: You find common ground and mutually agree with rapport. You’re the chosen one.
  5. Purchase: You make your first sale with the customer.
  6. Deliver: You deliver what you’ve promised.
  7. Delight: You deliver something you didn’t promise to the delight of your customer (delight ignites loyalty).
  8. Follow up: You intentionally stay in touch without a selling intention.
  9. Support: You find opportunities to deliver unrelated value when the opportunity arises.
  10. Referral: Your customer refers family and friends of their own accord, not for reward.
  11. Validate: You treat your referral consistent to the experience of your customer.
  12. Repurchase: Your loyal customer buys from you again.

Note that once you have fulfilled the sequence the first time, the list becomes cyclical. Delight is the moment when loyalty is born, along with unprompted referrals. Not all sales have a referral component, but most do in one way or another.

“Nobody wants to be sold, but everybody wants to buy.”

~Jeffrey Gitomer

How to Make Things Weird

If you skip steps and go for the “close” too soon, you will be perceived as salesy, creepy, or just plain awkward.

If you chose to simply deliver your thing as presented, you may get the sale, but you don’t assure any future business. You’re adequate, but not special. You may get another sale, but it will be a lot more work because you didn’t put in the fun and easy work between sales.

If you attempt to close a deal before you’ve had a meaningful connection (based on your customer’s perception, not yours) you will struggle to close the sale.

If you ask for a referral, but were underwhelming throughout the previous 9 stages, your only bet is to bribe the customer with a referral fee. Yuck.

How To Lose The Sale

The linchpin step in The 12 Stages of Loyal Buying is #3. This is where your preferred sales process takes place. This is where you become qualified to recommend the best solutions. This is the step where the customer exposes their vulnerabilities. This is where you make or lose the impending sale.

“Your business will never grow by multiples when Sales is an inconvenient interruption to Operations.”

~Ryan Chute

We’ll talk more about this in another blog post.

Good selling.