This tired old maxim is often trotted out by salespeople, particularly those who place great weight in the relationship building part of the job.
It is clearly not true as many transactions can be made online or require very little human interaction to be completed.
However there will be a variety cases were such interaction is required, but it is worth asking if we really need to make friends with people in our commercial network for sales success and also if the relationship is close, will business be automatically guaranteed.
Again this is clearly not the case and the evolution of sales from the ‘60s ‘benefit selling’ to 80’s ‘objection handling’ through the ‘90s ‘consultative’ approach has helped sales people to become far more focussed on the customer’s needs and more recently in the ‘00s with more of an emphasis on ‘value adding’. In all of these cases, building a relationship with the customer has been seen as a positive element as it has helped the sales person acquire the information they require to do their job more effectively. However now, in the ‘10s a recent body of research has shown that sales people who demonstrate pure ‘relationship builder’ characteristics may be putting their success in jeopardy.
The key to sales success in today’s demanding environment is being able to provide a customer with insight, meaning that they can recognise there is opportunity to change what they do (a need) and so gain some business improvement (a benefit). This can often mean making a customer feel somewhat uncomfortable, potentially challenging their status quo and consequently evoking an emotional response. This goes against the grain of the relationship builder who by nature does not want to deal in what they would see as a generating a negative reaction.
A new set of skills are required for the modern salesperson who as well as engaging individuals in the traditional way must then be able to present information in a way that both informs as well as potentially ‘alarms’ a customer before working alongside them to pull together options that would benefit them. Once it has been established that change is necessary/inevitable and how it can be achieved, then the sales person’s proposition can be made. This controlled and disciplined approach has similarities to, though some considerable differences to ‘consultative selling’, especially in the generation of the solution and timing of its presentation.
Are your sales team delivering the performance you require? Are they employing yesterdays techniques in attempting to achieve today’s (tomorrow’s!) results? How could a more up to date approach affect your business?
Talk to us about how your team can be equipped to succeed in today’s challenging market place.