Loyal Relationships in a
selling is the bedrock for successful selling in the new millennium.
However, most salespeople conduct themselves as if they were in a quaint
Norman Rockwell painting, building relationships on a smile and a firm
handshake, on friendship, on shared mutual interests, common background,
charisma, personality and frequency of contact. This quaint, traditional
and old school way of thinking is archaic and grossly ineffective.
enough sales organizations are questioning if this style of relationship
selling works anymore. Prospects simply don’t have the time, inclination,
the patience or the freedom from accountability to create surface-level
you ever meet a great glad-handing salesperson from the 70s and 80s?
They had a winning and magnetic personality, a can-do personality, they
were always upbeat and optimistic and they built friendly relationships
instead of sincere business relationships. A psychologist would more
than likely define their sales approach as self-absorbed, egocentric,
narcissistic and center of the universe. The irony is that salespeople
increasingly complain that their prospects are the same way. No wonder
prospects sometimes act that way. Salespeople are so self-absorbed
they don’t let their prospects get their own needs met.
recent movie, “Good Company“, perfectly typifies this type
of personality seller. In one scene a rising star sales manager admonishes
an aging and soon to be irrelevant Dennis Quaid about salespeople being
dinosaurs if they don’t change their skill sets. Dennis Quaid responds
by saying that can’t be all that bad since they ruled for millions
of years. And the tragedy is, he’s somewhat right. A personality seller
can survive in certain sales situations and certainly in commodity sales,
where being likeable will carry the day. Unfortunately, these positions
are becoming more and more scarce in the global information economy
where that type of salesperson brings little value to prospects. Sales
managers are constantly reminded of this sales strategy when they are
doing a pipeline review of their salesperson’s prospects and the #1
criteria for a positive forecast is “they like me”.
sellers too often get caught in the vanity trap. They put too much emphasis
on their own charm and persuasiveness. The focus is on them, not their
prospect. And what do we know about prospects and who they rightfully
only care about? You guessed it… themselves. Salespeople need to leave
their magnetic charm in the reception room. Sellers who rely solely
on their personality are limited to sell to others with similar personality
traits and interests. True relationship sellers can connect to anyone
because of the universal appeal of always putting the emphasis and focus
on the other person. Personality sellers generally glorify themselves
and their solutions and lack empathy and flexibility. They also seek
to control the prospect. Relationship sellers let the prospect feel
they are in control by empowering them to make informed and educated
decisions independent of the salesperson’s own agenda. They honor
the prospect. Unwittingly, what personality sellers work so hard to
prevent, they actually create. They are ultimately perceived as impersonal
and uncaring and their strategy to appeal to prospects to like them
is quickly becoming obsolete and irrelevant.
often salespeople are so intent on people liking them, they end up building
meaningless long-term relationships with prospects who are at the wrong
level, don’t have authority and can’t make “yes” decisions.
Their need for approval and to get people to like them supersedes their
desire to make a sale. What they don’t realize is that one comes to
harmony and connection with others not through approval or a need to
please, but through authenticity. You build respect and long-term relationships
when you have the courage to speak the truth and not sugarcoat everything.
Prospects ultimately buy from you because they respect you. Personality
sellers end up being the best player in a game that is no longer being
Durocher once said “Nice guys finish last.”
In sales, it can be a real problem if one is aggressively friendly.
Forsake being the most accommodating, most agreeable and the friendliest.
Salespeople too often overcompensate being the most courteous person
around, hoping that their goodwill and charm will carry the day. But
unfortunately it isn’t real and isn’t a true representation of who
they really are. Prospects see through the façade. An effective relationship
seller is authentic and knows that one must first honor and respect
oneself before others do. If everyone you encounter in your sales position
likes you, you are doing something wrong.
fall in love with your prospect, fall in love with the process of learning
their business and helping them understand their priorities and initiatives.
You know you are too relationship-oriented to a fault when you are unwilling
to let go of unqualified prospects with whom you have a great relationship.
One question you should always be asking yourself is, if I invest in
this relationship what will be my potential return? By the way, your
prospects are constantly asking themselves the same question.
personality sellers claim they are relationship sellers when in fact
they are just professional visitors, goodwill ambassadors and glorified
order takers who bring no business substance to the relationship. They
go only where they are welcomed and well received, eventually socializing
on company time and dime.
are now waking up to the fact that there is a deficit of true relationship
sellers in the marketplace to recruit and hire. They are slowly coming
to the realization that “the natural,” who they sought out and hired
in the past, can no longer bring the necessary prerequisite skills to
successful selling in this demanding and challenging new marketplace.
Too many sellers in the marketplace today are simply empty suits.
selling is a manner of building a business relationship on thought-
provoking and incisive questions where the prospect formulates a belief
and an understanding that you have the best solution without you even
telling them what that solution is. Relationship selling is all about
trust, confidence and understanding, and since so many products have
reached quality parity you can no longer create trust like you could
in the past with your product or service offering. You aren’t selling
features and benefits, your value or your superior product or service.
You are really selling the advantage of doing business with you. Prospects
are really buying your advice, counsel and expertise in their industry
and understanding of their business and their problems. In true relationship
selling, people don’t buy from companies but from individuals. Trust
shifts from product and company to the people who are selling.
prospects will buy inferior products and service from salespeople they
trust more often than they will buy superior products and services from
salespeople they don’t trust. Prospects don’t have the time, patience
or inclination to be an expert in every purchase they make. They rely
on salespeople to demonstrate their expertise through their understanding
of the prospect’s business.
of a universal parity in products and services, the only remaining differentiation
companies can rely on is their ability to engage their prospects in
a unique fashion. Thus, trust is the #1 relationship skill in business.
The first step in building a successful business relationship is through
curiosity and rapt attention, which, by the way, is the highest and
most sustainable form of flattery.
It’s the journey
that builds the relationship, not the end result. What you do from discovery
to the close is what will determine the quality of your relationship.
The sale is only the means to an end. The end is really the relationship
you build and the opportunities it affords you in the future. Unfortunately,
most salespeople, even with the best of intentions, are perceived as
putting the sale first because of their egocentric approach.
a relationship on trust is easier said than done. For a lot of salespeople
it doesn’t come naturally. They may be likeable and friendly and knowledgeable
but they might not have the innate ability to build trust and confidence
with prospects who don’t know them or who are guarded and defensive.
your prospect’s business allows you to create value. However, you
don’t create value with your product or services. Creating value and
building a strong relationship requires you to be neutral and take a
non-selling posture. Actual information is lost when we lose objectivity
by emotionally responding (positively or negatively) about what we are
hearing. By being in the moment we honor and empower our prospects.
As difficult as it may sound, we need to be empty of expectations. Building
long-term relationships comes from first serving and then selling. Most
salespeople mistakenly first sell and then try to serve and build trust
through their deliverables. So often, they never get to the trust and
serve part because the trust wasn’t established initially.
relationship sellers are more concerned that people respect them and
view them as a business resource as opposed to having someone like them.
They ask tough questions, they are willing to walk away from relationships
that no longer are mutually profitable. They take time to build relationships
within an organization so they are never left high and dry when the
inevitable day comes when their “inside guy” leaves. They also know
when to have serious relationships and casual ones and they are always
open to making adjustments. They are willing to be selective and discriminating
to maximize their time and their returns. When it comes time to upsell
existing relationships, they treat their customers as first-time prospects.
They don’t have preconceived assumptions, they don’t take their
relationships for granted and they patiently and methodically reestablish
understanding of their prospects’ new needs and objectives.
relationship sellers seek to build relationships to get annuity business
instead of short-term transactional business. Transactional selling
is very expensive and raises your cost of sales. Relationship sellers
always have their focus on long-term customer retention and development.
Taking a long-term perspective, they are willing to make an investment
in the relationship instead of just getting a quick hit or one night
stand. Sustainable relationships happen when both parties view one another
as equals. It is always more fulfilling and fruitful to establish relationships
with prospects whom you trust and respect than with someone you don’t
respect, or you place too much emphasis solely on them and place them
on a high pedestal.
selling, unlike personality selling, will ultimately be more fulfilling,
will be more profitable long-term and will minimize sales burnout. By
creating enriching experiences and connections through knowledge-based
questions you will learn which relationships to pursue and which relationships