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Want to grow your sales? Look beyond the commission

We’ve discussed why it’s better to be in a relationship with your clients. To get there, the first thing you have to do is get in the mood.

What do I mean by that? You must develop a relationship mindset. And that means you must have a long-term focus. You can’t be just about the transaction; you can’t be just about the commission check.

It’s about valuing the relationship, and part of that is believing that you are someone with whom other people would want to have a relationship. Because you have:
•    Experience
•    Training
•    Skills
•    Ability
•    Knowledge

Maybe you have all five. These are attributes that your client will value when it comes time to purchase your product. Because they don’t want your product, they want what your product will do for them. You also must learn to think as much you can from your client’s point of view, and that goes to the heart of empathy. We are truly empathetic when we understand where our customers are coming from.

Here’s how to achieve that. Define the top 20% of your customers over the last year. It’s up to you whether it’s by revenue, profitability, number of purchases or whatever metric you want to use.

Once you know who they are, immediately increase your face time with them. And bring value to the table. Get in front of them and offer one idea, or one project to each one of them. Help them get a new piece of business. Ask for their opinions. Ask them questions. Listen to their answers.

I want you to redefine your communication strategies and methods. Possibly they want you to shorten how much time you spend with them but make it more impactful. Then do it. Maybe they want you to spend more time and expand your relationship. If that’s the case, then do it.

Speak to some of the best clients in your book of business. Revisit some of those past success stories. Ask some of those clients what they value most about you. Whatever it is, take it and layer it upon the relationships you have with other customers. Get in the mood. Get your relationship head on your shoulders.

And as we’ve said before, you need to have a marriage focus, not a one-night stand focus. Think longer term. Let’s get to the heart of relationship selling versus transactional selling. Your focus as sales professional must be on the acquisition of long-term, sustainable, mutually beneficial, value-add profitable business, understanding that when you are dealing and looking to build a client, a stable of clients, that it may not happen today.

It may require other resources. It may mean passing on the business for now. My colleague Jack Daly likes to talk about how from time to time in the sales training business, we are asked to come in and help build a compensation program for companies for their sales team.

And although we have certainly done that in the past and we have built dozens of compensation programs for companies, today it is just not our superior level of expertise.

There are many companies out there who could provide a much more valuable compensation program than us. There might even be off-the-shelf that fits the bill, and at a much lower price. So in these situations, we refer that business to other companies.

In other words, we pass on the business of building a comp plan for somebody because it is not our level of expertise. Could we fit that square peg in a round hole and take the business and take the customer’s money? Absolutely. That’s what we would do if we are looking for a customer. But we are looking for long-term clients. We are looking to develop the most essential thing we need in a sales process, which is trust.

So we back away from that business for now and we refer them to somebody. Do we make sure that we call the company that we are referring them to and make sure that their customer is going to be taken care of? By all means.

Six months go by, maybe a year, maybe two years go by, and we get a phone call. It’s the same company. They now have their compensation program going but they are looking for some sales training. They are looking to develop a sales training program or they are looking for a speaker to come in for their national sales event and so forth, and they call on us.

And we get the business. And we probably are up against nobody else. How many other companies do you think that they call? How many other companies do you think that they put a bid out for, they said, “Here I would like you to bid on this job or we would like to get what your fee is?”

It became irrelevant because we had already established trust and value because we had a long-term focus.

Photo: Shivz Photography, via Creative Commons 2.0.