So called ‘sales partnerships’ aren’t a laughing matter
The funniest thing about watching comedians on TV with my wife is that she doesn’t find them funny. The funniest bit is actually when she she sighs “Oh no, not more so called comedians”.
And I can’t help but think the same when I see organisations refer to their ‘so called partnerships’… except it’s not funny.
There is often lots of talk about partnering but there little evidence it is actually happening. It is a word that’s thrown around willy-nilly. It is probably because people think that it sounds nice to call somebody a partner, that they will feel special, that they get that that nice warn fuzzy feeling.
In reality though, does that happen? Or are people just doing this for their own gains?
For many cases I am dubious as to whether people are actually practicing the things that we can see in a genuine partnership. I wonder if the partnership is formed is because people genuinely have a mutual beneficial goal, because of working towards shared outcomes. Maybe it they are getting involved so that they can receive a higher level of discount or to use the relationship to coerce people into doing things. Essentially it is about what one party wants to happen.
Partnering in business isn’t just about being nice to each other, about being friends or about having a cordial and pleasant social interaction. It is about really doing things that make a difference to all involved in that relationship. It is about focusing on what all parties are trying to achieve.
And it doesn’t have to be a formal alliance. I believe it is more of a mindset. Some of the better partnerships that I’ve seen haven’t even been called that. They don’t need that label. It is just that the things that are happening in the relationship are what we would see as being good partnering. Equally, some of the worst are examples I have seen are where label is being applied to make people feel better, or to give an illusion of equality, or to try to flatter another party. The words are not backed up by the deeds.
So the question is for professional salespeople is how are using ‘partnering’? If it is in a cynical way you might as well stop reading now. If it is with genuine intent and a desire to embrace the mindset to improve how you operate, to achieve a formal partnership or ‘just’ a great business relationship lets briefly consider PQ or partnering skills
PQ or Partnering Intelligence is based on six elements that make up a way of working that results in an environment conducive to building trust and creating mutual beneficial relationships. It is important to be ‘fluent and fluid’ in all six attributes in order to reap the benefits since the six elements build on and reinforce each other. The six elements are
Trust: The foundation of all relationships. Without trust, there is no communication. Without trust there is no win-win. Trust is the basis for all healthy and productive relationships.
Win-Win orientation: Focus on mutually beneficial outcomes and the ability to resolve interpersonal conflicts and solve problems using win-win strategies.
Self-disclosure and feedback: A clear and constant exchange of information and feelings.
Comfort with interdependence: The ability to relinquish control and include others in the decision-making process and rely on them for the completion of tasks.
Comfort with change: The ability to do different things and do things differently, in addition to adapting to your partner’s changing needs.
Future orientation: Working together toward a common vision and set of goals based on a plan that is mutually developed and agreed upon.
These are things that smart salespeople understand and can weave into the way they work to. In doing so they are better able to embrace the evolving world of sales and take their selling to the next level.
Use these effectively and we now we are laughing…
Parts extracted from the book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills – A modern approach to winning business‘ by Fred Copestake
Fred Copestake is founder of Brindis, a sales training consultancy. Over the last 22 years he has travelled round the world 14 times visiting 36 countries to work with over 10,000 salespeople. His book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what salespeople need to do to refine their approach. It explores how to take things to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence and using the innovative VALUE Framework.