REAL ISSUES. REAL ANSWERS: The Sales/Relationship Connection
This month’s question addresses the challenge for a new salesperson to generate sales in a relationship-oriented industry. It’s a tough question with no easy answers— but one that resonated with our readers. The dealer, who opted to remain anonymous, wrote: “One of the biggest challenges in our industry is getting sales people to understand that business is about relationships. Relationships take time to develop, sometimes years. Many sales people, (especially the newer ones), are pressured to get the sale and gravitate to price as the ‘easiest’ tool to get that sale, only to learn later that the lowest price is nothing but a race to the bottom. How are dealers managing this reality?”
As we do each month, we emailed the very brief survey to the readers who have opted in to receive our email communications. A big thank you to the more than 200 readers who took a few minutes to share their insights into this issue. If you’d like to be added to that list, please drop me an email at [email protected] and let me know.
To begin the survey, we wanted to gauge just how important readers believe relationships are to the sales process. So we asked, “How important do you believe relationships are to a salesperson’s success in the LBM industry?”
As you’ll see in the chart, nearly 90% of respondents say that relationships are critically important to a salesperson’s success. Several respondents also shared a comment—with representative ones appearing below. Judging from the very one-sided results, it is no surprise that most of the comments lean heavily toward the importance of relationships. The third comment below was the one outlier.
“Our business is our relationships. In this business, relationships are everything!”
“As much as we would like to think that our customers buy from ‘the Company,’ experience has shown that more often than not they are buying because of their relationship with their salesperson.”
“If…when you say ‘relationships’ you’re including PERFORMANCE! The ‘backslapping and remembering a person’s birthday’ days of performance are gone…and SHOULD BE!”
“If you work for one of the big suppliers that throw out lowest price for sales results vs. profitability—and that’s your customer base, the low bottom feeders— relationships are minimally important. Any fax or email can accomplish the same thing.”
“Developing win-win relationships is the only way to build a portfolio of accounts that generate enough GP$ to legitimize the sales position as a true career path.”
“You must build a trust with your customers that can not be broken.”