The myth of great relationships
THE WORLD IS full of salespeople who claim, quite proudly, to have great relationships with their customers. If that were true, it really would be great. But unfortunately, the term “great relationships” is too often a veil that salespeople hide behind to keep from exposing their sales skills weaknesses.
Here’s how it works. An experienced salesperson believes that he or she has developed great relationships with customers. Therefore, he spends his time visiting these great customers, and focusing on maintaining the relationship. He can’t really dig deeper into the motivations and needs of the customer because he’s never really had those conversations before, and to do so would interject a new and disparate element into the relationship. Better to not take the risk.
The salesperson doesn’t present the new product or service too strongly, because, after all, it might jeopardize the relationship. And besides, he or she knows this customer well enough to know the customer would never be interested in this new product.
The salesperson never closes or asks for a resolution of an offer, because he or she doesn’t want to hear a rejection from that great relationship. Too risky. The sales representative continues to invest selling time in the account, regardless of its potential, because to do any less would be to jeopardize the relationship.
The relationship becomes the end, instead of the means to an end.
Paralyzed by the idea of “great relationships,” the salesperson forgoes the basics of consultative selling, and loses track of the essential function of sales and the heart of the salesperson’s job—to bring revenue into the company. Striving for and protecting “great relationships” becomes a deterrent to effective selling. It is, particularly among more experienced salespeople, one of the biggest obstacles to sales productivity.
I’ve often thought some marginally-performing salespeople, aware of their lack of sales skills, intentionally hide behind the screen of “great relationships” to excuse their lack of results.