One of the most influential factors in your sales success is your ability to develop relationships. People use emotion in every buying decision. This principle holds true even for sales reps selling business to business, after all, even in a corporate environment the final decisions will still be made by a person. In your quest to develop good relationships with your buyers you do not have to be ingratiating or otherwise insincere, it is simply essential that you pay attention to the way your prospects feel about you, adding a personal element to your approach rather than treating every situation like a cold business transaction.
The significance of relationships in selling can never be underestimated. Whether you are a network marketer selling to your friends or a corporate sales person selling to a buyer, it is important to note that nobody sells to a company. People sell to people and emotions automatically enter into these decisions. How the buyer feels about the seller is bound to have an affect on the sale. In all of your sales endeavors you should ensure that you are polite, kind and gracious, but there is more that you can do to build a relationship in which you have great influence.
Take the following example: Kelly purchases a small gift products company that has a relationship with a prominent chain store retailer in her niche market of inspirational gift items. Shortly after buying the company, Kelly gets a call from the head buyer at this chain store informing her that he would like to return the latest seasonal items that did not sell during the special season. Kelly is incensed by this request especially when she sees how much product he expects to return. She tells him no, since all seasonal product sales are final and refuses to accept the return.
The head buyer at this corporation is hoping mad. It seems in his relationship with the previous owners, they had an unofficial agreement that allowed him to return all seasonal items not sold. Based on that relationship, he regularly stocked up all 300 of his stores knowing that there was virtually no risk in it for him. Now that this new owner was not accepting his return, the bottom line would be greatly affected by the products that didn’t sell during the special season. Even worse, he personally would look less than competent to his manager who would want an explanation for the loss.
Without knowing it, Kelly has just severed a relationship with an important buyer. This man, whose decisions oversee the stocking of 300 stores, will no longer take her calls, buy her product or see her outside sales reps. By the time Kelly realizes the impact of her decision, she cannot even get a meeting in which to try to make amends.
Action step: When in a crisis with a good customer, always focus on the impact that the outcome will have on your relationship.
Had Kelly calculated the cost of the return versus the profit of monthly invoices for 300 stores, she might have taken a different approach to her client’s request. The impact of her decision has gone beyond a mere business situation and become personal because the buyer now has to give an explanation to his boss for this mess. In the blink of an eye, the entire chain store is no longer available to Kelly, her products or her outside sales reps.
Preserving the friendship, association or goodwill of the buyer is often more important than the product or service itself. No one sells to a company and in all situations you must consider the impact of your actions on the person you are dealing with. Remember, we are only human, and as such rely on emotions in every decision. If you want to wield great influence, increase your effectiveness, or just enjoy the function of your sales job, make great efforts to develop good relationships with your buyers.