It is my belief that building relationships and developing business friendships is the way to long lasting business success. Developing good business relationships creates a foundation for you and your business, no matter what it is, to prosper and grow through the duration of your life. I think of building relationships as developing a fail-proof web of connections that supports you and your family forever.
In all sales it is important to build relationships and maintain them, but how you develop your relationships depends on you and your personal selling style. Any relationship begins at the first point of contact (first impression), whether that be through cold call, email, linkedin, twitter, youtube or any other social media outlet. From there, your prospect or potential business relationship begins to learn who you are based on your further interactions. Your actions define you and your style of conduct, so identifying how you’re going to approach the sales process is crucial in order to stay consistent. Consistency leads to trust and trust leads to sales. Everyone should develop their own unique how to process for this.
Personally, I take a calculated and long term approach to sales and relationship building. I’m in it for the long run, so taking my time to build relationships is ok with me. From the beginning I am not focused on making the sale, I am focused on getting to know the “prospect” or getting the prospect to join me in a meeting, coffee, walk or activity where we can get to know each other. My long term view and relationship-focused sales approach requires me to meet people face-to-face. Of course, in our meetings we talk about my business and theirs but pushing forward on the sale is not my objective.
In a world of advertisements and pushy salesmen, I stand out by not selling. I can’t tell you how many times I have had lunch with a “prospect” and we spoke not a word about business until the end of lunch - when the prospect says something like, “so we have three open roles I’d like you to work on. I’ll send a contract this afternoon and let’s talk more detail tomorrow.” Business won!
When you build relationships - and you're authentically being yourself doing so - business comes to you, you don’t have to try for business, however you do have to try for the relationship. In my experience the hardest part about selling is getting the actual meeting or scheduling a time to get to get to know someone. Once I’m in a meeting a business contract follows on from getting along with my prospect. I’ve always said that 90% of the sale happens before your 1st meeting. In fact, if I were to give one piece of advice to a new salesperson I would say that your biggest sale is getting your first meeting. Focus all your efforts on generating good meetings and meeting new people anyway you can - and no matter how bad you are at sales you’ll crush it.
I’ve found that people are much more willing to see past your lack of qualification, past your quirks and insecurities once you get them in a meeting and develop rapport. I’ve been in several meetings, especially early on, where people saw that I wasn’t the best salesman or the most qualified recruiter for the job, but they also saw that I was determined and giving it 100%, and that’s what sold them. They looked past my faults and gave me a chance all because of my persistence, authenticity and ability to develop rapport (beginnings of a relationship).
My personal sales philosophy is that continually building solid business relationships and friendships through in-person meetings is the best way to grow your business year after year. You can recession-proof your career and continue to grow when others fail. Focus on building your network of business friends everyday and you will have a prosperous career no matter what field you are in.
This article was written by Quintin Ford, a recruitment entrepreneur located in Playa Vista, CA. Quintin is the Founder of OCEAN | STREET & Co-Founder at knw agency, avid blogger and social media guru. Learn more about Quintin on LinkedIn. - To attend any workshops, speeches or amazing events please check out knw.eventbrite.com
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