What makes a successful sales relationship? Whether your job title includes “sales” or not — you’re in sales. Everyday, you attempt to persuade and influence the decisions of others. This includes peers, subordinates, bosses, customers, prospects, friends, and family. Just because sales isn’t in your title doesn’t mean you’re not a salesperson — so don’t stop reading. I believe there’s something for everyone in this post. 

What Makes a Successful Sales Relationship?

1. Friendship — People prefer to buy from friends

Find common ground. For example, if you visit your customer’s or prospect’s place of work, look for family photos, awards, memorabilia, hobbies, interests, schooling, etc. Always look for opportunities to begin conversations, whether face-to-face, phone, or electronically. Most people enjoy someone who listens. Ask open-ended questions about them. Remember, friends share, so tell a little about you as well.

A few years ago, I was having a difficult time connecting with a customer — until I visited his home. I’m a bit of a gear head (I enjoy motorsports). The client showed me his trophy room. It was four walls full of racing trophies — he raced as a hobby. This shared interest developed into a friendship, which overshadowed the professional relationship. I wanted to help my friend.

2. Trust — People will not buy from someone they don’t trust

The client must trust you and your company. Make a list of your organization’s strengths. What makes you and your company a trustworthy partner? Be transparent; I don’t believe most of us trust people who have never made a mistake. Consider sharing a mistake, how you fixed it, and what you learned.

About a year ago, I had a very disappointing retail experience, My Dad, Water Jugs, and Customer Service. However, when I privately contacted the company, they used the information to remedy the problem by repairing equipment and training employees. Their reaction to the problem, turning it into an opportunity, has made me an advocate.

3. Need and desire — Although people buy for other reasons, this is a good place to start

Ask questions about the client’s needs and wants. Gather information and advise the client as if you were trading places. What would you suggest if you were the customer? Make recommendations with the client’s best interest in mind. Be an advocate not a salesperson. Put the customer first.

4. Communicate

Customers want updates, and they don’t want to have to initiate the contact. Customers have communication preferences, and it’s up to you, the provider, to find out if they prefer an email, call, or visit. They don’t want to be put off or ignored; when a client asks for information—they wanted it an hour ago.

5. Follow up

Send a customer satisfaction survey, call or visit, and ask for criticism. Learn what you and your company could do better, what else you should offer, and where you fail to meet your client’s expectations.

How Can I Help You?

I like to help people and organizations, but I have three criteria I consider before taking an assignment – I believe in what the organization stands for, I know I can help, and it looks like fun. If you have any questions, Contact Me. 

Does your business have a management training plan? Businesses and universities use my book, The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management, as the basis for their leadership development program. I’m also available to conduct training.

Are You in Sales Management?

Are you leading people or managing projects? Do you set goals based on activities to continue, eliminate, or improve or do you strictly look at the results? Do you believe one sales strategy fits all your clients and all your sales team? If so, you’re walking the streets I paved, and those streets lead to disappointment. The good news is if you recognize these behaviors in yourself, you can change. I did. I eventually became a highly effective sales manager and so can you. This workbook is the place to start. The New Sales Managers Workbook

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplas