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What is ‘Sales PQ’ and why should you care?

Nov 4, 2020

The simple answer is you should care if you care about your customers and care about hitting your sales target. So let’s break it down…

Partnering intelligence (PQ) is a measure of how well individuals build relationships and cultivate trust while accomplishing predetermined tasks in an alliance

Sales is a term used to describe the activities that lead to the selling of goods or services

Sales PQ is therefore how as salesperson can use their skills in developing meaningful business relationships with their ability to do things that drive deals. It is about how to be more effective in today’s world of selling where collaboration is the key to ongoing success.

I think it is fair to say that if we are doing business with someone we are to all intent and purposes in partnership with them, even if it is not set up as a formal ‘alliance’. (Unless the sale is very transactional in nature). That is why it is worth considering modern selling through a lens of ‘partnering’.

What is partnering?

Let’s start with the definition of a partnership.  Everybody has a different idea of what a partnership is, and what a strategic alliance is, so it’s useful to make sure we have a common definition.

Partnerships can be defined as: 

“When 2 or more people need to work together to accomplish a goal while building trust and a mutually beneficial relationship.”

Let’s dissect this sentence just a bit.  Alliances and partnerships of any form – whether it’s a partnership in your personal life, or two corporate conglomerates – you have come together for a purpose.  You are trying to do something – a task.  You are working together.  But embedded in that is the need to build trust and a mutually beneficial relationship. 

Why is that important?  Research has shown, almost all partnerships that fail, fail because they either don’t build trust, or they are not mutually beneficial.

The need for partnering skills

Although partnerships may appear to be between faceless corporations, it is people who form and manage partnerships.

To partner effectively, people must have the associated skills to create a successful business relationship. We can refer to this as having a high Partnering Quotient, or PQ.  These partnering skills include: 

– Openly self-disclosing information and giving feedback

– Creating trust through actions and words

– Creatively resolving conflicts and solving problems

– Welcoming change

– Valuing interdependence

 On the other hand, the following low PQ characteristics can doom a partnership to failure:

– Withholding information

– Having low trust of others

– Desiring to win conflicts

– Relying on past history for decision-making

– Maintaining the status quo and resisting change

– Valuing independence

Each partnership is as unique as the people who comprise it.  Even so, there are certain characteristics that all good partnerships have in common: 

The people in the partnership have a keen sense of self in that they understand their own strengths and weaknesses

They know what they want out of the partnership

PQ – Partnering Intelligence

The concept of Partnering Intelligence can be attributed to work by Steve Dent in the 1990’s and outlined in his book ‘Partnering Intelligence: Creating Value for Your Business by Building Smart Alliances’.

Partnering Intelligence is based on six elements that make up a behaviour-based system 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: 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.

Making a difference in selling

Sales is evolving.

Recently I saw an article that neatly charted the shift in 20th Century sales through five generations, namely cronyism, commodity, content, consultative and collaborative selling.

Cronyism refers to building relationships and personal selling, commodity to a more price-based approach, content is about branding and benefits and consultative to do with a more customer-centric focus on needs.

Collaboration is about salespeople and customers working more closely together than ever before. It is certainly where the shift is taking us, but it is worth exploring the other generations in more depth as they also help in a modern approach to winning business

And current evolutions are happening at pace.

Covid-19 has meant that iterations of selling that were waiting in the wings are now centre stage. A sales professional that is not conversant (if not competent) with these things is a perilous position:

– Virtual selling
– Hybrid selling
– Remote selling
– Dealing with VUCA
– Understanding buying processes
– Managing change

With selling changing so much, so quickly, there is a real the opportunity for salespeople to embrace this can make a real difference for their customers and themselves.

So, what can be done to bring a sales approach up to date?

– Be clear about what selling skills works best for you and your customers

– Learn about partnering skills and how these can be used to develop relationships with customers

– Use a framework to bring together your selling and partnering skills to do things that customers really value

If you don’t care about your Sales PQ you essentially don’t care about your customers and your relationships with them


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.

Contact: https://linktr.ee/fredcopestake