relationships

The Love Connection

I’m sure this won’t be news to you, but the Sales profession is all about relationships. And building relationships is about making personal connections with individuals and groups of individuals. Having a “gift” for Sales is not something that can be learned, however making connections and building strong relationships in your professional life is easily learned and becomes more natural the more you practice. Take some time to practice these connection tips to build your social skills, your ability to create and sustain relationships, and ultimately to build your selling skills:

  • Don’t forget the “little people”- in your haste to get to the decision makers in your customers’ offices, you may not have taken the time to learn the receptionist’s name, or the name of the administrative assistants. These people are just as deserving of your attention as the head honcho. This is a simple matter of good manners and common decency. It can also be a ‘favor for a favor’ relationship if you do simple niceties for the administrative staff, who in turn may help you get in to see the people you need to.
  • Look for common interests- take notes (discreetly of course) on your customers, vendors and contacts- record any information they give you about themselves; favorite sports teams, where they grew up, names of spouses and kids, hobbies. These tidbits will always give you common ground to build a relationship on, and will give you a conversation starter even if it is a new relationship. You will never run out of things to talk about and people appreciate it when you remember to ask them about the things they care about; “How was that cruise you took last month?” , “Is your daughter still playing basketball? How’s her team doing?” “I haven’t seen you out at the driving range lately”.
  • Personalize it- keep a healthy stock of quality stationary on hand and send hand-written notes to contacts you haven’t seen in a while (“was just thinking about you and wanted to drop you a quick note…”), to customers you just saw (“I always enjoy seeing you. Thank you so much for your business…”), and to businesses that have just celebrated a major milestone (“I just heard you’ve sold your one-millionth widget! Congratulations, I’m sure the second million isn’t far behind..”). The power of the hand-written note is the stuff legends are made of…this personal touch will make an impression and will help forge those personal connections which are so important in our automated world.
  • Walk a mile in your customer’s shoes- be objective. No, I mean realllly objective…how are you doing? Do you make sure your customers know they are important to you? Would you hire yourself as a rep for your company? Is there something you need to bone up on? Are you and your product truly benefiting your customers? If not, what can you do to turn that around?