This sales tip is for sales people who want to see their customers as partners rather than customers.
Believe it or not, I used to view potential customers as adversaries. It was a cunning game of cat and mouse where we were trying to outwit each other with smart scripts, objections, objection handling, closing techniques and being illusive at times. In the end, this chess game resulted in win-loss, loss-win, loss-loss and at times win-win. But I was doing fine and earned good commissions.
It was not until I started to sell to companies and their purchase departments.
Professional buyers soon showed me they wanted a stable supplier relationship where product, price and availability were all key considerations.
Some companies wanted more than that and saw me as a partner helping them to grow. The relationship would be such that any potential issues were anticipated and dealt with minimising their effect.
My largest clients insisted on agreed annual account plans, implants, product innovation and smart access to Management information.
During my sales career I found 6 behaviours where buyers and sellers work well together:
1) Great sales people ask questions that deepen buyers' understanding.
A sales person has access to product expertise and use this to be a consultant to buyers.
2) Great sales people listen to understand buyers' requirements, preferences and concerns,
A seller is an analyst and should use this skill assisting the buyer to find the best solution.
3) Great sales people solve buyers' problems.
Buyers have to have a thick skin. They get bombarded by end users, management and of course, sales people. A solid supplier relationship prevents many of these problems and they will prefer this.
4) Great buyers clearly articulate their requirements.
Trust lies at the basis of any new or existing relationship. For both parties this is achieved by asking smart questions and adjusting behaviour where needed. It also means making respective positions clear early on in the sales interaction. 'We use 50,000 widgets every month, you sell them so let's see what you can offer'
5) Great buyers share their decision making criteria.
The decision matrix can be complicated: product suitability, colour match, green credentials, cost, supply, delivery, order process, systems integration, trust and strategic fit are just some of the many considerations. A buyer who articulates priorities helps him/her self to find the best suited supplier faster.
6) Great buyers seek added value from sales people.
Sales people love a challenge! That is why they are in sales. Of course cost, discounts, and rebates are of great importance. Yet, joint forecasts, product development or sole supply status are added value requests that help to deliver a stable supplier relationship.
If you want to have better supplier-customer relationships resulting in more profit, feel free to contact me.