Build and Nurture Client Relationships

Build and Nurture Client Relationships
These days, you don't have to be willing to sell your mother up the river to succeed in sales. And you don't have to leave integrity and compassion by the wayside to close a deal.

With growing interest in New Age principles, the movers, shakers and innovators in the sales industry have been touting alternative approaches to selling -- ones that emphasize that sincerity and respect for the buyer need not preclude generating volume, filling quotas and racking up high commissions.

To be sure, the shyster, the huckster and the scammer still exist -- as films like Boiler Room, Wall Street and Glengarry Glen Ross are quick to point out. But you need only browse your local bookstore's sales and marketing section to find a slew of ethics-based options for the seller who prefers to see himself as a buying facilitator or solutions provider, rather than an insensitive, product-pushing flack.

In Selling with Integrity, author Sharon Drew Morgen discusses how bringing personal spiritual values into [her] job of selling brought her success as both a seller and an entrepreneur.

Morgen encourages readers to see the selling process as that of buying facilitation...a questioning and listening process, for the purpose of serving, that facilitates a buyer's discovery of how best to get his needs met. She emphasizes creating a relationship of trust and collaboration with the prospective buyer by really listening to the buyer's needs and bringing personality and humanity to the interaction.

Let the relationship come first, Morgen advises, and the task second.

Selling Solutions

Most people do not like to feel "sold," agrees Michael T. Bosworth, author of Solution Selling. It makes them feel manipulated or taken advantage of. Rather than trying to unload your product on a wary buyer, Bosworth recommends seeing yourself as a buying facilitator.

Cultivate a collaborative relationship with the prospective buyer by focusing on value over product. Value, which includes the service, training, consultation and any other perks that accompany your product, is what sells. It offers buyers solutions that are sensitive to their wants and needs, exceeding the intrinsic value of the product.

Selling solutions also facilitates an ongoing relationship with the customer. Salespeople who are good enough to facilitate the buying process rarely have to close, Bosworth insists. The buyer volunteers to buy.

Forging Ongoing Alliances

In this era of sophisticated consumers and comparable products among competitors, customers are not only buying a product, they're buying the way a company does business, the service that comes along with the product and the relationship between the buyer and seller. In other words, as Harry Beckwith argues in Selling the Invisible, consumers are interested in relationships, not features.

And, as the authors of The Cluetrain Manifesto point out, Markets consist of human beings, not demographic sectors...Markets do not want to talk to flacks and hucksters. Rather, the human beings who comprise the markets want to develop trust and, in many cases, an ongoing in-depth partnership with the company whose product they purchase.

The Softer Sell Can Still Be Hard Core

All this emphasis on respect and concern for the buyer is hardly a call to forego strategy for sentiment and sympathy. In fact, this kinder, gentler approach is conducive to honing your strategy and skills.

When you really listen to and hear what a customer's needs and wants are, you're in a better position not only to meet them, but also to anticipate those of your next customer. And you begin to develop a sense of what's going on in the industry you're targeting.

As Nancy J. Stephens indicates in Customer-Focused Selling, understanding customer needs, building trust and delivering solutions form the foundation for sales succes.