Anyone who is in sales or has ever sold for a living knows the pressure of getting deals done. Most often the focus is on moving inventory, cold calling and quantity versus quality. What have you done lately and you’re only as good as your last sale are common themes. It’s SELL, SELL, SELL!
There are many different philosophies and styles when it comes to selling. Not all work the same depending on the personality of the individuals involved in the deal and the nature of the product you are selling. I believe in relationship selling.
If you are just looking to move inventory and are under the gun, it may be difficult to spend the time needed to establish and build significant relationships. However, if you are looking for long term success and creating valuable partnerships then it may be worth adjusting your outlook. I realize this approach may be at odds with the immediate task at hand, but it is possible to do both. Ultimately, the relationships you share will enable you to put deals together on short notice or when times are tough.
As with most good relationships they may not happen right away, but they do need to start somewhere. You still may need to make a cold call or introduction. However, when you make the initial contact the focus should be on getting to know the person and learning as much as possible about their marketing strategies, objectives, challenges and measures of success. This may not all happen on the first call or meeting, but it is crucial to building the base of a solid business relationship. It is also important to try and connect on a personal level. Buyers are often guarded, but at the end of the day we are all people who can relate to each other on a variety of things whether its sports, families, backgrounds, mutual friends, etc.
Relationships are built over time with steps along the way to show you understand their business, you care about their success and you can be trusted. Not forgetting your job, while this is happening you can determine if you may be able to help provide them with solutions to their business needs. Always keep in mind you are hopefully building a long term relationship and not just a one and done sale. Their first answer may be “no” for several reasons such as timing, budget, strategic conflict, etc. Just because the answer is “no” right now, it doesn’t mean it will be no in the future. The key is to learn as much as possible throughout the process and to continue building on the relationship even though you may be disappointed in the short term. It is human nature to be disheartened or even angry after being told no, especially when your livelihood is at stake. It is also difficult for people to tell someone no, which is why deals are often dragged on or delayed. If you have a good relationship established with mutual respect, then it should be okay to be honest on both sides of the equation. It is also important to remember the relationship is with the person and not just the company. People change jobs all of the time, so a “no” while someone is at one company could easily be a “yes” at a new company because of the different circumstances.
Ultimately, most people would rather do business with people they like and respect. Having good business relationships will make what you are doing much more enjoyable and ultimately make you more valuable to current or future employers. Being liked alone will not get the job done. You still need to hone your skills and increase your knowledge base. However, having strong relationships will be the foundation for success.