People still buy from people.
I can still remember the sales man who sold me my first car. As a nervous 18 year old, Neil spent a lot of time with me running through all of my available options and took even more care in discussing finance options with me (at 18 year olds I cared more for chasing girls than worrying about the latest interest rates). Eventually after gentle guidance from Neil I chose a car which suited me down to a tee. That was ten years ago. Ten whole years of memories have been made in my life and yet I still remember a man who sold me a car. Why is this?
We come in to contact with hundreds of people every single day. Perhaps even more would you say? We interact with so many people and yet there are always those that stick with us and make an impact on our lives. The majority of these people are remembered for one thing; the relationship they build with us. I am not talking about a long term spouse or even the best friend you have known since primary school. I am talking about the dog walker who till take minutes out of their day to ask you about your family. The person behind the checkouts at your local store who pays an active interest in your life every time you buy a pint of milk. It is these people and these interactions that stick with us and we keep close to our hearts. It is this simple relationship development that can make all of us great sales professionals.
I am seeing a change in attitude towards sales people. Let’s be honest here; there are those out there amongst the general public who view sales professionals as snakes, and experts in the art of misleading customers, willing to say anything to a prospect to just get a contract signed and a deal closed. Of course I am sure this sort of poor practice is still on going in our industry and there are those out there who are giving the rest of us professionals a bad name. However I am seeing a shift in perception. The rise of consultative selling, in which a sales person will act more as a consultant to a prospect or client as opposed to a sales person, is becoming increasingly popular and is at the forefront of peoples changing perceptions on the sales industry as a whole.
There is also another aspect that is often overlooked in the sales process and is a strong link that holds a whole sales process together. Whether your sales cycle is months long, years long or simply hours long; there is one thing that can hold the whole process together and can not only help you to start the sales process and get the whole thing moving but can also help you to overcome rejections and objections as the cycle runs it’s course; the relationship between the prospect and yourself.
Relationship selling is a practice that has been around for decades and is nothing new. The top sales professionals in the World swear by the importance of relationship building in a sales process and yet it is something that is sometimes overlooked in favour of hardcore closing techniques and gentle manipulation tactics, however there is one thing for sure; we are more likely to buy from those whom show an interest in us. I want you to take a second to think back to a sale you look back fondly on. Perhaps it was the one that earned you the most recognition amongst your peers, bought you the most commission or perhaps a sale you worked the hardest for. Think back to what got you that sale. What was the one true element of the process that won you that business? I am willing to bet my mortgage that it was the relationship you built with your prospect that won you that sale.
A relationship trumps price. A relationship trumps competition. A relationship will turn a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’. And not only that, a relationship will turn your one time client into a repeat customer. Better still; that repeat customer will recommend you to every single person they see fit and introduce you to countless amounts of people.
Put yourself in a buyers mindset for a moment. I am sure you too can think of sales professionals you have come across in your life who you trust and who have really helped you. I am sure you have a car mechanic you always turn to, or maybe a builder or other tradesmen that you can always rely on and trust. And this is how simple Relationship Selling is. Nice people get repeat business.
We all know that people hate to be sold; but they love to buy. Every sales professional I have ever worked with, looked up to and learned from knew the importance of this and worked tirelessly to ensure their business relationships were just as tight as their personal relationships. I can guarantee that if you are reading this and you are working in sales just to make a quick commission cheque then your career will not last long. A bad sales person will not only close a sale, but they will close the relationship along with it.
Let’s not forget about Neil in this article. Why do I remember this man ten whole years after buying my first car from him? It’s simple. He developed a relationship with me. He listened. He cared. And most importantly, he took the time to ensure that I was getting exactly what I needed in the transaction. My needs were put first and I am proud to say that the car Neil sold me still sits on my driveway as I write this.
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