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How Will You Turn One Sale into a Long-Term Relationship?

How Will You Turn One Sale into a Long-Term Relationship?

Last week I wrote about the sommlerheim, an ancient tool that solves a modern acoustic problem. Bad news: the sommlerheim doesn’t actually exist. That story was fiction. I told it to make a point about unconscious biases against old solutions. Today is different. Today I tell you about an ancient solution to a very modern problem: customer relationships. And that solution is 100% real.

“Relationship” Matters More than “Management”

Customer relationship management is a never-ending treadmill of gruntwork. CRM software is complex, people are contradictory and results can be confounding. Expectations are usually out of line with reality.


The whole point of “managing customer relationships” is the relationship, not the management.


And the whole point of the customer relationship is to make more sales.


So here is today’s burning question:


How will you turn one sale into a long-term relationship?


There has to be a better way than adding more CRM to your stack, right?


There is a better way. I’ll explain in just a moment.

How Do You “Earn” Loyalty?

A “long-term relationship” requires long-term commitment. If you want long-term relationships from your customers, how do you get that long-term commitment from them?


Or – to reframe the question – how do you get their loyalty?


The sommlerheim I wrote about last week triggered a lot of interest. People wrote asking me where to buy one.


And why not? If you need to design perfect acoustics, why use the slow and expensive method when there’s a proven, fast, cheap method?


Humans are weird though. I wrote about the sommlerheim to illustrate that weirdness. People will reject solutions that actually work. Not because the solutions are flawed, but because for cultural reasons.


It’s not rational. But it is real.


In my story from last week, people rejected the sommlerheim because they didn’t like the tribe that used it.


But you’re not like that, right? You’re evolved and open-minded and all about results, right?


Well, perhaps. Let’s see.


The problem of loyalty was solved thousands of years ago. The solution transcends language, ethnicity, race, gender and culture. Everywhere this solution has been applied, it has created long-term relationships.


And the solution comes with baggage: religion.

A Morally Neutral Template for Loyalty

How do you feel about it now? A little squeamish perhaps? That’s why the real reason you will reject this solution. Your brain will come up with reasonable-sounding excuses. But the real reason is that you feel squeamish.


That’s ok. You’re only human.


It’s strange but true: religion provides us a proven template for creating loyalty. Let me set your mind at ease, though.


The template works. Not because it’s religious or spiritual. All that stuff is window dressing.


It works because human nature hasn’t changed in a very, very, VERY long time. Sure, you’re human. And so is everyone you’re trying to reach.


So if you can take a chance that you might find some powerful ideas sitting inside the context of religion, you could create long-term relationships with your customers.


So let’s extract the template from religion. We will use only the specific techniques that create loyalty. We don’t need to fiddle about with all the other stuff.

The 5-Part Loyalty Template That’s Worked for Millennia

Here’s the simple 5-part technique religions use to create loyalty. It is not at all what you might expect. This is the template for creating long-lasting relationships – for creating loyalty – between yourself and almost anyone.


  1. Persona: You must have a persona.
    Your persona must have a face and a personality. The face should have two eyes and nose in the “upside-down triangle” shape. The personality should be both admirable and relatable.
  2. Origin Story: Share your origin story.
    Your origin story should features a hero who is an avatar of your ideal customer. He had the same struggle, yet overcame that struggle and now offers the solution. The “shape” of the story should follow one of the 3 story shapes that humans tend to respond to most positively, “Man in Hole”, “Boy Meets Girl” or “Cinderella.”
  3. Ritual: Observe rituals together.
    Humans innately understand play and bond over play. “Ritual” is just a grown-up word for “playing a game.” Play games with your customers.
  4. Manifesto: Proclaim your beliefs.
    Create an intentionally emotional manifesto, not a rational “Vision” or “Mission Statement.” of beliefs. It should be divisive and strident. It should divide the entire world into good guys and bad guys. It should make impossible demands.
  5. Lingo: Create your own internal lingo.
    Make it intentionally confusing.


Now, clearly there is a lot to unpack here. But these five elements are common to every successful religion. The reason they are common is because they work. The reason they work is because human beings are not rational. We are emotional. And very, very predictable.


Not what you expected, is it?


So, how do you turn a one-transaction sale into a long-term relationship? You use the techniques of loyalty that have been around for a very long time.


The problem of loyalty is old. The solution to the problem is almost as old.

The problem is still with us. Yet almost no one is using the solution.

What are you waiting for? This is your opportunity to set yourself apart.