Another Opening, Another Show—it’s another way to approach your sales call. Each sales conversation presents another opportunity to capture interest, to learn more about your customer, to communicate your marketing message, handle objections, and gain commitment. And then the cycle begins again with your next call.
Does it make a lot of sense to be afraid to ruin a relationship with a customer by being straight forward and asking for the business? I think it makes no sense at all. If we truly believe in what we are selling AND we are committed to being customer focused—then to avoid being straight forward and having that frank discussion with your customer about what we really believe is in their best interest makes no sense.
There’s been a lot of buzz lately among sales professionals and sales leaders about the characteristics/qualities of a great sales rep. In fact, a recent Harvard Business Review blog titled “Selling Is Not About Relationships” caught my attention. Anytime a group such as the Corporate Executive Board conducts a large study aimed at learning more about selling, the findings are definitely worth considering.
It has been said that business success is 85% people skills and 15% technical knowledge. In the sales profession, this may be more heavily skewed towards those interpersonal skills. When you ask sales people if they feel it is important to develop relationships with their customers, they invariably say yes. But when you ask them how they do this, they don’t seem to know what to say. It seems that many people struggle with how to develop those business relationships.
Have you ever walked away from a sales situation—whether it is buying a car or an appliance—because you did not trust the sales person? Conversely, have you ever bought something because a friend recommended it? Selling is part of life. Whether you call it selling or persuasion, there are four fundamental truths that apply to all selling situations—whether it is reacting to the recommendation of a trusted friend or to what a sales person is trying to persuade you to buy.
How odd it is to hear that a sales person does not want to ruin the “relationship” with a customer by asking for the business. It seems that some sales people don’t know the difference between a friendship and a business relationship. I guess this is due a confusion of how to distinguish the two. Friendships are important and yes, it does help to be likable, especially in sales. But you are not getting paid to become someone’s friend. You are calling on your customer to sell your product.
It’s been said that actions speak louder than words. That’s why UTAs are so powerful. Have you ever heard of UTAs? Undoubtedly you would remember if you were the recipient of one. UTAs are Unexpected Thoughtful Acts. They usually don’t cost any money but the payoff is priceless.
We often talk about how important relationships are in business, especially in sales, but how do we know if the relationships we have with our customers and colleagues are truly substantive ones? It seems that many, including sales people, often confuse being friendly with someone as being the same as having a business relationship. Though friendships may develop, at times they can be considered obstacles to doing business. I’ve heard reps say, “I don’t want to ruin my relationship with …by asking for more business.” This confuses me…because sales people are paid to sell, not to develop friendships.
The other day I read a statistic about selling—that customers reveal only 20% of what they are thinking. So how do you get them to share that other 80%? It would probably help to figure out why people don’t share all their thoughts. After all, Thinking Like a Customer is our mantra. There are probably several reasons customers want to keep certain thoughts to themselves:
It’s been said that business success is 75% people skills and 25% technical skills. Nowhere is this more evident than in sales. However, few if any sales reps receive training on how to build business relationships with those people with whom they do not naturally connect. If people skills are so important, why aren’t more companies providing this kind of critical training for their sales reps when we know we don’t naturally connect with but 25% of the people we meet?