Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sales Relationships - Top Ten Tips For Bonding With Your Customer

In my 25-year sales career, I've seen a lot of good, and bad, on the tactical side of sales and have always been amazed at the lengths some people will go to gain a customer's attention. What is even more amazing is that these people actually think outlandish measures will work. If you just remember a few simple tips, guerilla tactics won't ever be necessary.

After interviewing several individuals who've spent over 20 years in sales, the following guidelines emerged. Not only are these ideas applicable in the sales arena, but in life's arena as well.

Justify Full1). Manners. Etiquette is a highly underrated and important facet of sales. Whether you're on the phone, out to lunch or vying with a competitor for face time, you'll get a lot further with sugar than you will with vinegar. As Julia Roberts said in Ocean's Eleven, "there's always someone watching," and in sales, you never know who.

2). Smile! No one likes a sourpuss and a smile is contagious. Try the age-old experiment: smile at a person and they'll smile back. This also works when using the telephone. A person can hear a smile in your voice just as they can hear stressed, sad, bored or angry. There's an old adage that it takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile, so go ahead and show those pearly whites.

3). Be respectful of their time Ask your contact if they have a minute to spare. You could cost yourself more than a sales call if you run right over someone without clarifying this point. Some people are afraid they'll get a no, but a no today may open the door tomorrow to an even better yes. If you respect their time, they'll respect yours. Never forget; your time is valuable, too.

4). Ask questions, then listen. Don't be the "show up and throw up" guy. Not only could you be barking up the wrong tree with your products or service, but it shows you are genuinely interested in them as a person. You may find out a key fact which nets you more than you imagined. And it's hard to update a superior when you didn't find out the information you were sent to get or were too busy thinking of the next comment to hear what was said in the first place.

5). "Man up", so to speak. If you don't have the right answer, don't make one up. Customers will respect the fact that you didn't just say something to pacify them. They may have to take your answer to a superior and if they look bad, you'll look worse. And you wont' find yourself back in their office anytime soon.

6). Body language. Read up on the fine art of how to interpret a person's unspoken verbiage. There are plenty of books, sites and workshops on just this subject. It can save you time, money and aggravation. Simple things such as arm crossing, fidgeting or a sitting position can reveal a plethora of information. Think of Jim Carey in Bruce Almighty when he asked God to give him a sign. A truck full of warning road signs was directly in front of him, but he refused to acknowledge them.

7). Follow up. No matter what, do not promise follow up then drop the ball. You will lose trust and be put in the Rolodex under U for undependable. Even if you have to buy time to complete something, at least they know you haven't forgotten them. Chances are, your management wants to know how you're keeping them updated as well. Better make sure there are answers all around.

8). Thank you! What a way to set yourself apart. There are millions of salespeople in the world today. It makes you wonder how many take the time to write a personal thank you to the person who carved out a spot in their day to listen to a sales pitch. It can be as simple as a two-line blurb but it places you in front of the dozens who didn't.

We use a program that allows you to pick or design a card and send it out from your computer, all with a button click. With an attached postal account, you never have to shop then stand in line at the post office again. You have a tangible, mailed, personal note that lets them know they were more than a statistic on a call plan.

9). Keep good notes. It may be a pain, but in this electronic age, there's no excuse for not knowing what you did the time before. And don't forget to review the notes before the next visit. The salesperson who goes back prepared beats the one who sits across the desk with nothing. Once again, it shows you cared enough to make them a priority whether you did or not.

10). Treat your competitors with respect. This may sound crazy, but you never know where that person will land. The bridge you burn today, could be the walkway to a much needed job tomorrow. These people can also, and often will, help you in some way.

Nice guys don't finish last, bad guys do. There's enough business to go around for everyone and the salesperson that ignores this will be hung out to dry faster than the lone passer on a Nascar super track. You'll find out soon enough who wears the black hats and wears the white.

So when you're out there beating the streets every day, remember these few common sense tips. Don't forget, if you ever want to change jobs, many a sales person has been hired by a customer, but only if they show themselves to be an asset no matter which side of the desk they're on.

By : Jacquie_Galvin

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