Thursday, December 20, 2012
Why Relationships Aren't Valued in Some Sales Environments
This is a complex problem, but part of it having the wrong hiring profile, self-centered people can't manufacture genuine relationships. Dan Waldschmidt in a recent blog post of his talked about the futility of "relationship selling" and the REAL reason it doesn't work.
My response is companies that are faced with long-time cultural dynamics in sales teams that foster short-term thinking, and not caring about the client in a genuine way have a hard time adding "relationship building" into the mix because it isn't the dynamic the team was built with. It's like telling a front lineman to be a contortionist in Cirque du Soleil. Many companies that have brought in "hard closers" to hit the ground running have built a team of near sighted players. For example, I know just one of many many situations that go like this--rep talks to prospect, within 5 minutes the rep is asking about budget and trying to figure out if there is something here they want to pursue, and when it doesn't magically surface to the top they are out there there. When in fact there was something that just took more creative collaboration and taking a problem solving approach to the discussion. Or, another common scenario is a rep is a prospect's best friend until they close the deal, and then they are out of there. And when the customer has problems or needs some outreach, the rep is nowhere to be found. And honestly, not in all situations but in some, the rep should stay engaged to help because they built the trust that closed the deal. In a perfect world, a person would feel a sense of responsibility since their name was a big part of it. An example, one rep called a prospect multiple times a week doing everything to get the business, it was more of a partnering approach--went on for weeks and weeks, then they closed the deal. Lots of implementation problems and high visibility issues happened and when I asked the customer when was the last time they talked with the rep--the response was they haven't talked to them since the day they signed the contract. It is unfortunately the old-school thinking of many sales teams to be a prospects' best friend until they either close the deal,or see they aren't going to make them any $ and dump them like a hot potato. When I interview people, one the questions I ask--and one of the most important, is "give me an example of when you have gone above and beyond for a client, for your company?" That tells me so much about a person. I get everything from "well, you are really making me think here Mari Anne..." to something along the lines of "well I stayed till 5:15 once...." Then I get the people that are committed to helping their prospects/clients/companies to succeed and don't have that mentality of scarcity in everything they do. Those answers of how they went out of their way to personally make a difference tell me everything I need to know.
You can't re-engineer people that think like that at their core, they are coded that way--even if they can copy what they THINK it looks like, like adding gobs of contacts on social media, or attend network events and schmooze the ones they think they need to know to appear connected, it is just vapor because they are doing it for self centered reasons. But you CAN address it up front at the hiring stage and hire people that really do care about what they are doing or coach the people that want to be more genuine and just need some skills development. Taking a root cause approach to it all is the way you don't perpetuate the car salesman persona into your company.
If a relationship is all about the "deal" that is the equivalent of a scam--if you are genuine with your prospects/clients then you have something that is further reaching into your personal reputation and how prospects view you, and a by-product of that is you will close more deals.