At one time or another, we have all been buyers and sellers of products and services. Yet we tend to behave differently depending on our role. For example, when serving as a buyer:
- Do you ever put yourself in the seller’s shoes?
- Are you open to sales conversations?
- Do you provide information that helps the salesperson know whether or not you are a viable prospect?
- Are you honest and transparent?
And what about when the roles are reversed, and you are the salesperson:
- Are you sensitive to the buyer’s time, interest and availability?
- Do you do your homework before the sales call?
- Do you demonstrate your professionalism and interest in the prospective buyer?
Very few of us think in terms of what the person on the other side of the phone or desk is thinking. Yet, a little empathy, compassion and patience go a long way toward building meaningful relationships.
The Why of Building Relationships
It’s important to remember that both sellers and buyers make a significant investment in time during the sales process. If expectations and guidelines are not properly managed, both parties suffer. When the salesperson has done a good job, it means he or she identified a legitimate need, presented a viable solution, demonstrated the benefits and value of that solution and discussed price. What’s left is a positive buying decision.
Sounds fairly straightforward, but it isn’t. Sometimes buying decisions can take months, even years. What if the salesperson thinks the buyer has the responsibility and authority to make a buying decision but later realizes he or she doesn’t? Was the buyer upfront and transparent? What about companies where buying decisions are made only after multiple decision makers get involved? Sometimes these processes are just too unwieldy and need to be modified to make sure everyone is more efficient with their time, money and personnel resources.
But it’s not just buyers who need to be more thoughtful and considerate. Sellers need to understand that many prospects are on overload. They don’t have time to take every call at the time they receive it. Even if they have time, they aren’t likely to have a favorable response to, or impression of, a caller who just launches into a sales pitch without building some rapport first.
The How of Building Relationships
Within the context of “can’t we all just get along?”, what can learn buyers and sellers do to be more respectful of one another?
1. Ask others if it is convenient to talk.
2. Be polite and professional, but make your needs and intentions known.
3. Let others know what your preferred mode of communication is.
4. Respond to calls, emails or texts in a timely manner.
5. Always follow through. Do what you say you’re going to do.
6. Thank others for their time and interest.
Whether you are on the buying or selling end of the conversation, remember that you are not speaking to a company, a building or a brand. You are dealing with people who have emotions, stress, goals and concerns. When you take a more human and authentic approach to the process, you will build the trust that forms meaningful relationships that can lead to long-term business success.