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?
Perhaps it is because most organizations labor under the misperception that you can’t teach how to build relationships. But you can—building business relationships is a skill that can be taught with a conscious, systematic, and routine approach. I know, I created the process and our company has taught it to thousands of people.
There are three key factors that are the building blocks to developing valuable business relationships. You can translate these into steps to provide guidance as you work to improve and broaden the scope of your relationships.
1. You begin with your mindset, what you think. Because your mindset drives your words and behaviors…and these are the only things that another person can see or observe, you need to believe that a relationship with this individual is important. The person you’re reaching out to needs to feel that you are genuinely interested in him/her as an individual.
2. Another factor is what you communicate—the questions that you ask, the information you gather. Think about what you want to learn about this person. You certainly don’t want to come across sounding like an interrogator but you do want to learn things such as this person’s interests, their challenges, their needs and their passions. You’ll want to develop the ability to formulate questions so that they are welcomed and worded in a non-threatening manner. When people feel comfortable talking with you and sharing of themselves with you the relationship foundation begins to form like concrete.
3. The actions that you take speak louder than your words. People tend not to pay as much attention to what we say as to what we do. Your actions differentiate you from other people. People want a relationship with us if our actions show we care and if all of our dealings with them are consistent, persistent and predictable in a positive way over time. Many other people may have the same information as you but do nothing with it. For example, if you learn that your customer loves to bike, you can look up bike trails in the area and bring that information to your next meeting. This shows that you’ve thought about that person outside of work and remembered what they were interested in—enough to do something about it.
Building relationships is a process. It is something that takes time and effort as all worthwhile things do. However, the payoff can be enormous. People prefer to do business with people they like. Often in sales, the products or offerings we are selling are similar to what the competition can provide. It is the sales person who becomes the prime differentiating factor. Following a systematic process to build relationships will not only set you apart from other sales reps but provide you with meaningful connections with the people you meet and enrich your life.
If you want to learn more about how to build relationships, click here to learn about this lesson and others that are part of the Delta Points of Sales Excellence lessons.