The heart of any sale is contained in the quality of relationship between the buyer and the seller. Sales relationships are hard to form and take time. Once formed they are easy to maintain if you pay attention and make investments into the relationship. Over a decade ago, while working for a large tech company, one of my technicians expressed to me that my efforts to build customer relationships were a waste of time. How wrong he was. There is good business reason to have a strong relationship with your customer. When trust is established, the perception of risk is reduced. And when you are perceived as less of a risk than your competition, purchase resistance lowers and you will have the competitive edge.
One of the main reasons for lost customers is indifference or not respecting the relationship. If you interview customers that cherish their salesperson, you will hear them say “I feel like he is part of my team” or “She understands my business” or “He’s like family and I trust him”. The fact is, the more time you spend with your customer the deeper the relationship becomes. And that is true through difficult circumstances as well. Salespeople often run from customer issues. Over the years I watched my sales counterparts try to handle big issues over the phone or pawn them off to other staff in the organization. Some of the greatest bonding happens when a salesperson has the courage to show up and get in the trenches with his or her customer. A vendor-generated problem can be a huge opportunity if handled quickly and effectively.
Ultimately, the more you focus on the relationship instead of the sale, the more the sale will take care of itself. And the more time you spend developing the relationship, through thick and thin, the more likely you will become a cherished salesperson.