Updated September 1 at 4:01pm

Build relationships and the sales will follow

Guest Column:
Ken Cook
Everybody knows that relationships are important. Curiously, most sales organizations do not focus on relationships as a key component of their strategy and tactics. Most sales training does not emphasize relationships or train on building relationships that are effective and sustainable.

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Build relationships and the sales will follow

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Everybody knows that relationships are important. Curiously, most sales organizations do not focus on relationships as a key component of their strategy and tactics. Most sales training does not emphasize relationships or train on building relationships that are effective and sustainable.

In late 2010 advertising agency OgilvyOne Worldwide interviewed 1,000 salespeople around the world. More than two-thirds of the respondents in four different countries indicated that they believed the buying process was changing faster than sales organizations are responding.

Business, especially sales, is usually thought of in cognitive terms. The focus is on metrics and money. Goals and objectives are assessed quantitatively and individuals are reviewed in terms of attainment of goals. When we do well we continue to build by doing more of the same, although sometimes this does not sustain the business. If we did poorly we change things – our products, services, activities, and any other thing that we think will help us get over the hump. We’re vulnerable to the latest business thinking; we’re searching for the key to success.

The odd thing is that when we seek to improve, we seldom look to improve our relationships. Our focus does not naturally go to our interactions and the results of those interactions. And most significantly, we don’t think in terms of meaningfulness, either for ourselves or more importantly for our customer.

Paradoxically, we know that success in business is about the people. If you are across the desk from the customer and the deal is on the table, the closure of the deal depends almost 100 percent on the relationship of the people there.

The solutions-oriented salesperson, the mainstay of sales training for the last 20 years, has become the commodity. Customers expect that when a salesperson crosses their threshold they need to bring more than solutions to the table. The customer expectations are that the solutions are the baseline for consideration. Solutions by themselves are no longer unique.

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