We live in a fast-paced world. The internet and cell phones have dramatically improved sales people’s ability to increase their customer base. However, at the same time, these tools have also enhanced our productivity, thus decreasing the response time demanded by both their employer and customers.
I began my career having to use payphones to make calls on the road and snail-mail to confirm almost everything else. Everything was much slower, but much more personal. Office visits were encouraged, lunches and dinners were commonplace and relationships were established.
As someone who’s been in the sales business for a long time, I know that lasting relationships cannot be built via e-mail and cell phone contact. Personal interaction is necessary, and the longer that contact can be maintained, the stronger the relationship will become.
So just how valuable IS relationship selling? I believe it accomplishes two vital aspects of the selling process:
- Establishing you as the expert. Having a strong relationship with a client means that the he or she will naturally turn to you as his expert. When a question or product need arises, the sales rep with the strongest relationship will be asked to solve the problem, provide advice or establish the product criteria for the project about to be designed.
- Establishing you as a problem solver. When you earn a client’s trust, problems that inevitably develop during the course of a job can be resolved much more readily if the client believes that you will provide him or her with the proper solution. In my mind, this can be tremendously important to all involved in the project. The ability to offer realistic solutions to on-site problems without having to call on industry “experts” or third party adjudicators is the true worth of a successful relationship.
It is impossible to develop this type of a relationship without personal long-term contact. It cannot be done over the phone or by e-mail. In today’s fast-paced world, personal relationships with clients are not easy things to accomplish. However, once they are achieved, they’re worth their weight in gold.