My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Thursday 12 July 2012

Relationship Selling

I read this blog post How to Turn a Relationship Into a Sale.

It raised some interesting points so I felt compelled to write a blog post. The essence of the blog is that if you have a strong relationship within an account it can be high value.  I think it's worth focusing in on the word 'relationship'.  I'm busy writing a book on selling drawing comparison between selling and dating (romance). Not all sales warrant a relationship.  You'd think it a bit freaky if the person selling you a pair of jeans wanted to hang out and be friends.  Complex sales require an on-going relationship since there is an on-going need after the initial sale for example product support, maintenance and enhancement. Ultimately it is like a marriage.

The jist of the blog is that if you give into the sale it will be beneficial. Now contrast that with a marriage. If there is no trust then the relationship will fail. If there is no give and take in a relationship, it will lead to divisions and rifts.  It should not be a surprise that in complex sales relationship needs to be two way. It is not simply about taking the order and shipping product/service.

Strong relationships can overcome differences, challenges and the hard times.

I have come across my share of sales "professionals" that weren't bothered in helping me out unless they saw a purchase order as a result.  I may have needed them but it was not a mutual relationship. They wanted/needed my money but not necessarily me !  In the long term this relationship was at risk of suitors coming along and whisking me off my feet with their attention.

Fostering long term mutual relationships can be a powerful way to retain account loyalty.

As with real relationships, this gifting and mutual exchange needs to be real.  It can't be just going through the emotions otherwise it is like being in a marriage of convenience without love.  Simply giving because of some Machiavellian ulterior motive will come across as false. The relationship needs to be genuine.

Interestingly I've come across situations where a strong relationship can be a hinderance. When I have
tried to sell into former employers, this deep knowledge of their business can trigger defensive behaviours.
I compare this to someone of the opposite sex that you've been friends with since childhood. To suddenly be in a romantic relationship with them is a change in the relationship - it is not a straight forward transition or evolution - the roles of the relationship have changed. 

Looking at long term sales relationships, I can see some organisations reacting when they read the How to Turn a Relationship Into a Sale blog post. Any change in a relationship needs to be done carefully and evolve over time. 

I liked the "You know what I do. Is there anything we can do to help you?".  A powerful right brain question.

A good blog post which has given me some ideas for another chapter in my book.

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