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Is Relationship that important to make a Sale?

December 20, 2010

I recently gave a Webinar on Sales to TECHBA, which is a Mexican incubator which brings established Mexican companies to start up their operations in the US.  One point I made is that a “business relationship” in Mexico has a very different meaning than in the US.  In Mexico, you must know have a personal relationship to do business with someone.  Do you feel that this is the same or different in the US?

Building Business Relationships:

There has been a lot written about the importance of building a relationship in sales.  I just read How important are relationships to Selling? and 7 Ways to Stop “Selling” and Start Building Relationships Some very good points in these articles, but there is something missing.

In a B2B sales situation, there is too much emphasis placed on individual sales relationship and not enough to company relationships.  Sales People are more focused on their relationship than completion of the sales process.  Business managers hire sales people because of their relationships, rather than their ability to sell.  If I have the responsibility of buying a big ticket item of $100,000 or more, I better make sure that my relationship does not get in the way of what makes good business sense.  I had one buyer in New York say that he really did not like me, but he would buy from me.

Once, I took over a Salesforce, and asked them “Why do you sell?”  9 out of the 10 sales people said because of relationship.  I then asked, “Why does your competitor sell?”  The same answer – relationship.    So, what have you done to sell the company’s relationship and its product and services which will distinguish you from the competition?

Relationship, Negotiations

In many instances, I have seen sales people because of their relationship not have the courage to ask the customer for an order, or for more business, because they were afraid of jeopardizing their relationship.  When there is a misunderstanding, or tough negotiations, these sales people will sit on the customer’s side of the table, which prompts me to ask them to look at a copy of their pay check and who wrote it.

Relationships versus Trust

Business Relationship to me means trust.  Trust in the person, and in the company you represent.  I have a Sales Level Process chart available from the Accidental Salesperson by Chris Lythe. Out of 5 criteria in the Process chart the Level of Trust is of number 1 importance.  Here is how Mr. Lythe defines it.

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4
Neutral or distrustful Some credibility Credible to highly credible; based on salespersons’ history Complete trust based on established relationships and past performance

Isn’t this really how to judge the quality of your relationship?  Do you or your company know how to build trust?  Is it worth having a free consultation with the Sales Coach and seeing what we can do to help your people and your company build trust?

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