Building Sales Relationships

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At the end of the day, we are all sales people in one form or another. Whether it’s a child pleading their case for just a little more time to stay up watching TV in return for their best behavior, or a grown man/woman shopping at their local farmer’s market attempting to negotiate the best deal with the vendors; we all do it (some much more effectively than others.)

Individuals who tend to be “grabby” stand to gain absolutely NOTHING long term.  The fundamental key to building strong relationships is through listening and being genuine in every way. Any action that deviates from this will derail any prospects of developing a relationship to its fullest potential. Let me be clear though; genuine and sincere should NOT be confused with meek and mild. Politely confident, compassionate and self-assured individuals are typically the ones that evolve into trusted advisors for those in personal and professional circles. An exceptional book that highlights the personal traits of successful leaders is, “Mastering the Seven Decisions that Determine Personal Success”, by Andy Andrews …a MUST read.

So how do you get started at being more effective at building relationships? First, SHUT UP! Yes, close your mouth, open your ears and watch the person you’re communicating with. You’ll never know if you have a connection with that individual unless you ask open-ended questions, shut up and listen. Individuals will tell you what’s bothering them, what they need, why they need it and when they need it if only asked…SHUT UP and listen. For most people, it’s one of the hardest things to do and that’s why most people are terrible at building relationships.

Next, after listening to and building a rapport with an individual, you need to convey that you have heard everything they have said.  In other words, “So if I understand you correctly, what you’re telling me is…”  They will let you know if you’re missing something. And if they don’t, just ask them, shut up again and listen.  More importantly, if you’re doing this correctly, the other individual is going to start realizing that you are actually interested in what they have to say. I can guarantee you will be in the “good minority” of people whom that individual will want to continue interacting with and eventually do business with.

At this point, you should know whether or not there is mutual benefit that can be conveyed (personal or business.)  If there is, the next step is quite simple…share it with them.  A simple statement such as, “Based on what we’ve discussed, I believe that we can offer you value by…”

Just a quick side bar here; I can remember my first training in this area. It occurred just after my college graduation. My father, a Wall Street executive, told me that before I start my career search, I should receive professional training on both presentation and consultative sales skills, otherwise known as the “Socratic Method .”  Not only was I classroom trained in this consultative style, but also video taped and subsequently critiqued by classmates and instructors. Nothing highlights areas that need improvement better than a live video. In many ways, that training proved more valuable in my professional and personal life than many of my university classes. For the finest training in this area visit Communispond .

With that said, it is critical to understand that 90% of the individuals you interact with are “Passive” buyers.  That simply means that they are not buying anything at the moment, but they are triaging who they WILL be buying from in the future. All too often, people jump into the bloody, shark-infested waters of the “Active” buyer tank and quickly realize that they’re scratching and biting over an ever-shrinking piece of pie with every new salesperson who enters the water. Let me assure you that the calm, blue waters of the passive buyer sea are far more profitable and sustainable as long as you invest the time to develop those relationships.

Good, bad, or indifferent relationships (like wealth) are built over time. Nurture your relationships! When it’s all said and done, people buy from those they know and TRUST.

I know you’ve heard that before, but were you really listening?

Richmond Hulse serves as the Director of Business Development at XONITEK Corporation.  He is highly experienced and knowledgeable with an extensive background in the development of Operational Excellence consulting business practices.  His focus is to continue the aggressive growth within the company’s business practices such as: Lean / Six-Sigma Practice, Operational Due Diligence, and Turn-Around Management.

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