You’ve had a lengthy, profitable relationship with a customer when boom! it ends. The reasons are usually common and preventable.
Research pinpoints four main reasons:
1. The salesperson didn’t care enough about the prospect’s needs, preferences or problems.
2. The salesperson was more concerned with style, while the prospect was looking for substance.
3. The proposal was more of a solution for the salesperson’s problems than it was for the prospect’s problems.
4. The salesperson didn’t listen to what the prospect really wanted or failed to find a way to satisfy those needs.
Strong customer relationships are built by applying these five behaviors called “Trust Builders.” Share them with your salespeople.
1. Candor (truth of words). Your presentations are balanced and fair. What you say agrees with what the buyer knows to be true. The proof you use to support your words is credible. Subsequent events prove your statements to be true.
2. Dependability (predictability of actions). Your actions fulfill your promises and fit a pattern of dependable actions you have established. You never promise what you can’t deliver.
3. Competence (ability). You display technical command of products and applications. You have the skill, knowledge, time and resources to do what you promise and what the buyer wants. Your words and actions are consistent with a professional image.
4. Intent (placing the customer’s interests on a par with your own, a commitment to be there, to be responsive, etc.). You understand the prospect’s needs and place them on a par with your own. You give fair and balanced presentations and clear statements of benefits. You won’t push a product the prospect doesn’t need.
5. Likeability (personality) Prospects want to deal with salespeople they enjoy. This doesn’t mean a salesperson should develop the personality of a stand-up comic. It does mean you are courteous and polite and make efficient use of the prospect’s time. You and the prospect may share and talk about areas of commonality, even extending to non-business topics.
Ted Barrows is the president of Barrows Associates, a sales and marketing company based in Bristol, RI.