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The Human Thing to Do

April 25, 20236 min read

The Human Thing to Do

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to give thoughtfully and digging into the methods that create an impactful experience. Let’s switch gears and look at it from the recipient’s side. What happens when someone receives something thoughtful from one of their business connections and what does it trigger on their end?

I had a chance to talk with Tom Martin, founder of Converse Digital, and author of the bestselling book, The Invisible Sale, about his relationship-building efforts as an agency owner. Tom is an expert at this relationship-nurturing stuff - In his book, he talks about being wildly successful at proactively building relationships with dream prospects in a way that ultimately leads to an invitation to pitch (and win!). 

When two people who really live to build meaningful relationships have a chance to talk, it all just clicks. There’s just a positive energy that builds as you compare approaches and examples. And that’s really what I felt as Tom shared his journey. 

Tom has spent 30 years working in the agency world. He grew up as an account manager until his ideas for changing the business development process took him down a different path. After writing to the president of the company he worked for, the owner took him up on testing the theory that they needed to be more strategic in how they approached business development, they needed a more proactive approach. It wasn’t long before he was placed in the role of VP of Business Development, to eventually launch his own company and of course, write a book on how it all works! 

There is no doubt that Tom is an expert relationship builder. We talked about everything from building trust with prospects and clients to team engagement and growth. And throughout it all, Tom really showcased just how well he can get to the core of understanding people and creating an emotional connection with them.   

When I asked him if he’d personally experienced any memorable relationship-building moments, we got down to the heart of what creates a lasting bond – Just being human. 

What Happens When a Prospect Cares?

Before Tom was an agency owner himself, he shared that he was working for a company that was in the middle of a very important pitch with a large client. His wife was nearing the end of her pregnancy with their 2nd son. As a family, they made the decision to schedule his birth AROUND THE PITCH! She was to be induced between the semi and the final round of pitching. And the agency was confident they were in the running to win this account. Tom knew things were going to be tight and full of stress. 

The semifinals took place at Tom’s office and the very next day he was off to the hospital to meet his son. Life was good and they had a 2nd child. Once they were back home, Tom had to immediately head to the prospect’s office for a week to deliver the final round of the pitch. It was long, crazy hours of prep work, a pitch and then a flight back home. 

Once he landed, he called his wife to find out if she needed anything on the way home. That’s when he found out that something was wrong with his son, and he needed to head straight to the hospital. Now, everything turned out just fine, but here was this young family living in a hospital room while the staff worked to diagnose and heal their 10-day old infant.  

During this time away, all of Tom’s calls were being routed to his account team. Unbeknownst to him, the prospect had called and was told that Tom was out because his newborn was in the hospital, and he needed to be with his family.  

Tom recalled that the next thing they knew, in walks a nurse with, “the largest food and snack gift basket you’ve ever seen. It was ridiculous how much it had all this snacky food like sweets and crackers and cheese – It was awesome.” It was from the prospect’s team with a message that said they heard about Tom’s son and were praying for a fast recovery. 

They were blown away. Here were these people that Tom hardly knew, and they were sending over a gift for Tom and his family. This must mean they won the business, because why else would a prospect send such an expensive gift to them in the hospital? He decided to check in with his boss, only to find out that they had not received any such news. It wasn’t until a day or two later that they were all informed that yes, the company had won the business.

Being Human Changed the Relationship

During one of the most difficult moments in their parenting, Tom can look back at part of that experience with fondness. I’m sure that plenty of family and friends showed their support and care during this time, but here is this completely unexpected gift that became something so touching that he’s able to pull forward the entirety of receiving it all these years later. 

How did this impact his relationship and his work?

Here's what Tom shares:

I think what made the impact is that it goes back to making an emotional connection. It was the human thing to do. They didn’t know me and my family. But they immediately wanted to say hey, we feel for you. And I just found it so human and respectful. They’re still one of my favorite clients. I bent over backwards working for them – We worked so hard. It was a really great relationship because it was this mutual respect kind of thing. It wasn’t the size of the basket; it was the fact that we didn’t even work for them.  

I keep going back to “it was the human thing to do”. I want you to feel that part of this. What this gift really showed is that these people 100% saw the emotional ordeal that Tom and his wife were going through and wanted nothing more than for them to know – We see you. Have you ever held onto something so heavy or experienced something so hard that the moment you recognized that someone sees it in you, there is a release. It doesn’t matter who it is or when it happens, but when someone completely gets what you’re going through and there is that connection, you feel like the weight is somehow shared. I think we forever connect with the people who do that for us.  

Tom gets it. It’s something he implements in all facets of his business and teaches to others. He listens at a level that many may not, and more importantly, he has built processes in place to act on the things he takes note of during conversation.  

In the end, this isn’t exactly a blog about teaching.  This is a blog about feeling.  What I want more than anything is for people to understand the feeling that comes with creating the kind of relationships where that person would go out of their way for you just because you acknowledged them deeper than they expected.  


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