Thursday, November 08, 2012

What is Relationship Selling?

           Today in the capital equipment and machinery market, business volume is growing and so are the targets. But, you know that plum order from the nice customer is all yours”.  Then one day you go to your customer one fine morning, after several weeks, and ask him about “my order” [ look at the arrogance] .And he says “Oh that order, it went to the competition Ltd”.. as you realize that the order is lost forever-the one high value order on which your target was built up on.

Later on, after you finish berating your juniors and your boss stops berating you; you realize that you never had a relationship with the customer at all. This is an example of what-not-to- do in relationship selling. Do not take anyone for granted! In our line (high value engg. equipment selling) it makes you redundant and in our race (homo-sapiens)it leads to your extinction

Say, you are looking over 20 accounts, do an accounts versus sales analysis. You will find that at the most 5 or 6 account for 70% to 75% of your sale. You try to find out how many visits you made this year in 7 months, and it so turns out that you made only 1 visit, because you thought that would buy only from you. In addition, you tried to sell to the 15 customers who give you maximum 25% of the sales. What foolishness

In relationship selling, you make a relation with the customer’s key man. He may not be the person who signs the order but it is his decision, all the way. Develop a professional relationship with him. Tell the truth to him and no bullshit please. Tell him that you want the order but you also want to have a seller-buyer relation with him, so that it’s not one way traffic.
You try to help him in whatever way possible. You offer suggestions, which can help the customer increase his productivity. At first, the customer may be suspicious but later he will realize that you are sincere and honest. He will trust you although he may not trust your product. If that happens, you have to hard sell him (or her) and you should be able to do what you promise. Visit him once a week-fortnight.  This gentleman or lady then will be your friend come hell or high water. It’s you he will trust and your word will be the last word on the subject.

Build up your relationships today, all in your major revenue-earning customers, and you will not regret it no matter which company you represent, in the future. If you have a good product, the customer will buy it just because you are selling it. Hard to believe, but this is true folks. I have done it myself. There are exceptions to every rule. If you are selling swords to Atilla-the –Hun, then maybe it will not be wise to have a close relationship.

With price becoming so competitive and quality being measured in microns, the day is not far away when your relation will count. Build win-win relationships with your customers, and not only will you get the business, but you will also gain a friend. This is the magic of relationship selling.

I know a gentleman (very senior) who is now in IOCL Gujarat Refinery. We still keep in touch. And I know that if I go to him with a proposal, he will consider it, because he will be sure that what I propose is a win-win thing.