“You don’t close a sale; you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” Patricia Fripp
Human beings are creatures that connect. They like appreciation and association. No man can exist alone, hence the saying, ‘‘No man is an Island.’’ It is by connecting effectively and efficiently with one another that businesses and relationships excel.
The business environment today has gone ‘‘personal’;’ everyone wants to give a personal touch to customers. Customer Service departments of organisations are improving their knowledge base and strategies by the day to ensure that their organisations stay on top. They improve their strategies to ensure they connect more with their customers and prospects. The more you connect with your customers, the more you protect your business from activities of competitors.
Salesmen are not left out in this new world of business where a lot is determined by the ability to connect with customers. Today’s selling is about relationship. One factor that will stand firm in any business relationship, even when other things fail, is the cordial relationship you have built over the period. Buyers will likely stand with a salesman who is their ally. People naturally protect true friendship. This is human nature.
Selling as an art
I often talk about the artistic nature of selling. This aspect of selling is where the salesman displays creativity and ability to bond with the buyer. A salesman who has mastered better ways to relate with his customers and prospects will always be successful. He will be successful because he has discovered his customers; he has also discovered their needs.
You cannot sell unless you know. You must discover before you sell and you cannot discover what you have not connected with. You must connect to know. This is the psychology of selling. It takes a lot to discover your customers and prospects. It takes the man who has nurtured the buying and selling relationship to a ‘‘personal level’’ to discover the customer.
A salesman who succeeds in connecting with the customer often excels because of the relationships he developed, and not necessarily because of any other reason. The logic also goes that the more you connect with customers by way of building good relationships with them, the more you sell.
People will always buy from salespeople they like and trust. They will buy from salespeople they like because human nature encourages solidarity. They will also buy from people they trust because integrity begets value and high quality. Integrity presents the best. This is a given.
eThe glue of relationship
It takes integrity before trust. The salesman would have shown high level of integrity in his dealings with the customer before attracting his trust. Therefore, the buyer loses nothing if he buys from a salesman he trusts.
This is a simple logic that applies in advanced selling strategies. The duty of the salesman is to build the relationship that will enhance trust. The simplest way to ensure this is by developing and sustaining friendship with the customer, and by offering the best products and services. The more truthful and reliable you are to the customer, the more you build a robust relationship with him. It takes friendship before trust. Trust is earned.
Every salesman must know that friendship with customers and prospects should not be taken for granted. I have said this before and I will say it again – being friendly with the customer is not a ticket to cut corners. It is not an express approval to take advantage of the customer.
Ideal selling represents integrity. This cannot be overemphasized. Integrity should be your guide any time you sell; no matter whom you are selling to. Professionalism should not be sacrificed on the altar of friendship. The salesman should connect with the customer and at the same time be professional – selling the best products and offering the best services. This is the only way to develop, nurture and sustain cordial business relationship.
Again, let me reiterate my regular advice to salesmen: ‘‘Sell emotionally and justify logically.’’ Sell emotionally to explore the existing friendship and also to appeal to the emotions of the buyer. Justify logically to give adequate reasons why the buyer should go for your product. This is the science and art of selling. You can’t go wrong in your selling when these two concepts are applied.
George Emetuche is chief executive salesman, The Selling Champion.