invest in sales relationships. Here’s why. Towards the end of last year, my bank wrote to me. Like the two years running before then, I was being invited to take up yet another 30% increase on my credit card limit. This third invite would effectively more than double the limit I had started off with. That is, the limit my bank’s assessment of my original application showed I qualify for. Yet, based solely on my repayment and expenditure habits over time, conservative as the bank is, they still deemed it fit to double my limit. Without my asking for it.

Importance of building customer relationships

In what is now appearing to be an annual ritual, no paperwork of earnings has been asked of me. No application requested. Not even a ‘phone call nor the rigmarole a bank can put you through in the name of knowing you better. Just an email inviting me to take up the offer, which is even made more enticing to close by having a time limit on it. Every year I receive this email I marvel at the sales genius who thought it up. Where credit is concerned character supersedes ability to pay. Paperwork is considered important in our sales transactions. However, emotional issues based on character, like trust and confidence, are what really carry the day.

Why is building a relationship important for a salesperson

For insrance, Mama Nanii who runs the kiosk in your estate does not extend credit to all her customers. No. Over time, she has learnt to invest in sales relationships; she knows whom to trust and whom not to. So profound is this concept that lending institutions are already toying with the concept of having kiosks in local shopping centres act as their (lending) agents. This is deeper than the bank agency concept you are familiar with.

How relationships improve the sales process

Relationships deepen the sales process. Emotional connection delves into the inner sanctum of the sales process. As a renowned speaker once said, sales is simply a transfer of emotions. invest in sales relationships more than business processes.

invest in sales relationships

The power of relationships in sales

Understanding this progresses the salesperson further along the profession. The understanding allows her to make credible decisions on her feet, largely ignoring the red tape that company processes can be. It is because of this understanding that you will hear a salesperson fervently defending a client’s case which is inconsistent with a company’s parameters because, she insists, “I know this guy”.

She cannot explain on paper what exactly she knows but she knows that having the prospect on board is a sound decision. Field experience does this; it galvanizes the salesperson-prospect bond.

Relationship selling examples and techniques

Admittedly, those to whom she is pitching her case usually don’t share her sentiments. This is because they don’t share the emotional connection. Despite being told to defend her assertion with a business case, as “you are the one on the ground” she will not win all the battles. And despite having the strong bond with the prospect, time will not always prove her right. (For instance, in a bank I once worked for, a corporate relationship manger once fiercely defended an extra limit Uchumi Supermarkets wanted because, “I mean, come on, it’s Uchumi. They’ll pay.” Less than a year later, it foundered. Oops!) However, win or lose, a sales person should not stop to understand her client and make decisions made on the progressive understanding; and not necessarily what the rules say. Selling, after all, is largely an art; not a science.

Benefits of building customer relationships

Now then. This is not to rubbish the importance of paperwork in the sales process. No. After all, documentation is what helps start off, record the relationship, and further it. Databases feed off this collection of data. As a salesperson however, as the relationship progresses, rigidity with process does not help movement along the sales cycle or funnel. It hampers it! Had my bank chosen to stick to the rules and have me make an application with necessary supporting documents, it is likely I would have failed to meet their parameters. Assuming in the first place, that I would have agreed to do so. Yet, because of a progressive salesperson who Invested more in sales relationships than processes, they have deepened my connection to them. And, therefore, their pockets too.


Read: How to handle an angry customer if you are a salesperson


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