Strong relationships help close deals

Guest Column:
Ken Cook
Sales are not where you want them to be. What do you do? More

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Strong relationships help close deals

Guest Column:
Ken Cook
Posted 4/22/13

Sales are not where you want them to be. What do you do?

Every business at some point in time deals with this dilemma. And since business is often thought of in analytical terms, what we do and how we do it are measured in the context of goal achievement. Goals and objectives are assessed quantitatively and individuals are given reviews in terms of attainment of goals.

These reviews tell us how we did. If we did well we continue to build by doing more of the same. 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.

The natural inclination in business is to fix things. Improve the product. Enhance the services. Focus on the solution and make sure it is the right one for the customer. Tighten up our ROI analyses and show the customer that he would be crazy not to buy our solution. Look how much money we can save you.

If you see you or your company in the above description you have a window into what you and your company value. You value solutions and sales. Identify prospects and needs, design solutions and present solutions.

Here’s the odd thing. The customer’s decision to buy or not to buy is most often not related to the solution. It is related to the relationship with you. And 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.

Consider the approach the managing partner of a strong, mid-sized accounting firm took. For years he participated in the weekly client-review meetings. The discussions were dominated by project reviews, status updates and forecasts for billable hours and future projects.

One morning the approach changed. This partner shifted the emphasis to the relationships. He asked each member of the team to talk about their relationship with the customer. Who do they know? How well do they know them? What do they understand about the person’s anxieties and fears?

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