I believe in building meaningful relationships in business. As a leader, I’ve found that strong relationships help in getting things done. Whether it’s with your employees or customers, relationships are about trust, being credible and creating common shared experiences. The problem begins when every company says that they are relationship based. Just saying it certainly does not make it so — and most organizations say it. Who is responsible for these business relationships anyway?
A salesperson needs and wants to sell things and companies want a sales force that is consultative, likeable, capable of speaking a prospects language, and focused on building relationships. Oh, and they’d like them to be on plan too. So what really matters here? Is it production and results or style and the intangibles? Pressure from sales managers, bills, ego and family often gang up on a sales person, which means selling the right way becomes secondary. The long term takes a back seat to right now. And “relationship building” becomes just another bad sales stereotype. I don’t think it has to be that way.
Lets start with building trust. You must earn trust. Perhaps from following up when you said you would. But there is more to it. Is your company trustworthy? Do you have a solid story to tell? Is your boss trustworthy? Would you bring them along to meet your prospect? I bet many of you know exactly why I would ask that. You can attempt to build trust, however, it is your company’s responsibility to be trustworthy everyday with its stakeholders, or your sales role will be extra difficult.
Next up, are you credible? Can you speak in technical terms with your prospect? Do you understand the technical folks in your business? Do they understand you? If not, you have some gaps to close. Credibility comes when we can speak our customers language in a sincere and respectful way. If you can’t? Many won’t. And this stereotypical sales person is the worst. They don’t even know what they are selling, and they don’t try to learn. Relationships matter, but not enough if you don’t learn the lingo.
And finally, common, shared experiences rarely come without credibility and trust in your sales world. The answer requires involvement and time. People want to buy from folks with common interests from people that are like them. Your prospects have to see you as part of the community. This is more than being on local boards and active in not for profit activities. People buy from you when it just seems logical. And that logic is a series of common shared experiences with you, your employees and your business.
I know we are going to serve a new client when they say, “It seems natural to do business with CBI Group, lately everywhere I turn I meet someone who works there or who has worked with you.”
There is so much more to relational based sales, drop me a line or read more from a real friend of ours, Ed Wallace in Business Relationships that Last.