Effective sales depends on building deep relationships with your customers.
Intimate relationships. Trusting relationships. Long term relationships. Mutual benefit relationships. Cherished relationships. Memorable relationships. “Gaspworthy” relationships.
The end game is to establish such a strong bond with a customer they will never EVER think of doing business with someone else.
Customer intimacy results in barriers to customer exit; a far more effective approach that worrying about what the competition may be up to and over which you have little control. If they want to attack you they will.
Try these three things to get make sales relationship building integral to your sales culture.
1. Declare that bonding is in; flogging is out as an element of the organization’s value system. Relationship building requires that a new strategic context be struck and communicated to the organization.
Make relationship selling matter. If you don’t declare that relationships are a key element of your strategy and a key success factor for the organization, no one will pay attention and nothing will change.
2. Make relationship building a critical component of the sales performance and compensation plan.
Outline it as an expectation and include it in the sales bonus plan. That’s the only way sales people will pay attention to it.
As everyone knows, sales is probably THE most compensation-driven function in any organization. Show a salesperson the compensation plan and watch them deliver the expected results. There is no doubt what their priorities and focus will be. Their actions will be DIRECTLY aligned with what they are getting paid to do.
With this in mind, make relationship building the focus of compensation. Define no more than 6 key elements of relationship building that you feel are critical to your success.
You could adopt proactive solution presentations, listening and engaging, follow-up, keeping promises and internal advocacy as behaviors you intend to hold sales accountable for. Don’t make it complicated to start; refine it as you go.
In year 1 of the new compensation plan make relationship building 20% of sales compensation and increase it every year thereafter at a pace and to a level you are comfortable with. To make it really matter to each salesperson, relationship building should comprise at least 50% of their bonus pay.
3. Engage customers in rating the performance of each salesperson. How do you measure relationship building behavior? Introduce a customer report card and get the customer to rate how the person is doing on each behavioural aspect of building deep relationships.
This approach will not only change sales behaviour, it will also bond you closer to your customer. Being open to customer input and actually caring about what they have to say will endear them more to you.
Moving from a product flogging culture to a relationship building one is a major change.
Be patient. Stick to your guns.
But get started.
How have you built long-lasting sales relationships? Leave a comment and let us know.
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