I’ve been thinking a lot about sales skills lately. There’s no question that the art of selling has changed in recent years. Gone are the days of high pressure selling, driven by the thrill of the chase. Effective selling today is built on strong customer relationships and a foundation of trust; a true customer/vendor partnership.
Old school selling was transactional in nature. It depended on a fancy term called “information asymmetry”, meaning the seller knew more than the buyer about their product and its underlying cost structure. This asymmetry meant the seller had the information advantage and could take advantage of the buyer. The buyer’s only defense against being overcharged was pitting vendors against one another on price. This transactional approach was by its very nature low trust. In a high trust relationship, transparency and information sharing are a given.
In an article from November 2010, the Harvard Business Publishing blogger Michael Schrage asked a question: which of your clients are most profitable - not the biggest, not the best, not the most satisfied; the most profitable? Are the most profitable clients the ones who operate as informed partners, whose business you understand deeply and who deeply understand the product you are providing? Or, are they simply the ones who have overpaid?
True partnerships maximize value for both the buyer and the seller. Transparency and long term relationships lower transaction costs and dramatically increase value for both parties. Sales professionals would do well to evaluate the quality of their relationships and the potential to build productive partnerships.
Many organizations say their sales professionals could generate a more robust long term book of business by:
Building strong client relationships
Truly understanding their customer’s business
Demonstrating quick and clear communication that builds trust
Initiating efficient processes to deliver the product or service
Business acumen that focuses on maximum profit potential
When these five elements are in place, a salesperson has established a true partnership with their customer. The power of partnership is rooted in value and it is very difficult for a competitor to disrupt a relationship that is built on value.
Do your salespeople create value based on a high trust, long-term relationship?
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