Building Relationships: A Failed Love Story?
Traditional sales people are relying on 20th Century relationship skills to build 21st-Century relationships. It's difficult to relate with customers when you're so intent on pushing product (fluff) and using your personality as a leverage to build trust.
Often sales people are too close to their product and too far away from their customers. One frequently leads to the other. A lot of conventional sales people are inappropriately and superficially trying too hard to get customers to like them before they have earned the right to do so, and at the same time are too distant from a business perspective to really understand their true needs. Which is what relationship selling is all about.
I recently read on a website from a sales training company where their tagline was, "Creating an uncontrollable urge for buying with a contagious personality." Really! The profession is still overflowing with sales people who believe that creating trust and relationships is about excitement, inane friendliness and enthusiasm.
Conventional sales people try to be very personable and then often realize they're being too personal, and then they get so self-conscious they pour it on even more to compensate for their initial poor impression. It becomes one big cluster mess of falseness. Are you projecting understanding, concern, care and empathy, or are you just more concerned about excitement, product fluff, enthusiasm and your own self-interests?
"We live in a gilded age of narcissism and self-involvement. People are obsessed with their own needs," says Holly Finn of the Wall Street Journal. You need to be asking yourself do your customers want close unbiased counsel, or missionary zeal and product enthusiasm? Most sales people get very jazzed about delivering the latter while their customers are pleading for the former, but unfortunately it gets drowned out in the seller's commitment to sell and product push.
"Very few conventional sales people can effectively pull off selling and at the same time be viewed as a trusted advisor," says Charles Green. Clients buy people and trust first, product selection is a distant third or fourth. Most selling activity diminishes trust because the intent and the goal is so self-serving and product driven.
Ultimately customers love to buy from people they trust because it's a decision-making shortcut, it's so convenient, it's the epitome of no fuss no muss. However, too often sales people muck it up with their race to close the sale.
Trust isn't something we necessarily do, it's who we are. Selling isn't something we do, rather it's who we are. When you establish trust in a selling situation you often create a situation that customers want to buy from you.
Selling is a hard skill that often doesn't work. Trust is a soft skill that often gets hard results in sales. Spend more time cultivating and nurturing trusting relationships as opposed to cultivating product exceptionalism.