How to cultivate long-term relationships, starting with the sale
Bishop-McCann Partnerships – How We Do It
We’ve all been there, right? We’ve selected a vendor, executed and never spoke again. Dusted our hands on our jeans and went about our day. Do you even remember who that vendor was? Maybe not. So, as a vendor, how do we avoid becoming a ‘one-hit-wonder’ with our clients and create a long-lasting partnership?
Developing long-term partnerships starts in the sale. Although as sales folk we may not be the program partners who work contiguously with the client, the sales process sets the precedence for the rest of the collaboration. Have you ever walked in to a restaurant with a rude host staff? It changes your entire outlook on the restaurant itself. First impressions are lasting impressions.
In my time in sales, I’ve seen positive and negative relationships develop and I hope to guide your partnership development for the good with three, simple rules.
- Always begin with honesty: Sales forces are often looked at as the bad guy; maybe wondering what they’re hiding, or what their tactics may be. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’re all in the business of doing business and as corny as it may be, being straightforward and honest is ALWAYS the best policy. Starting a conversation should be simple and easy.
It’s important to be fully vested into your own product, and how your services are delivered. Being straightforward about your delivery with a potential new client manages their expectations on how you’ll move forward together to a mutually achievable long-term vision.
- Understand your client’s objectives: Don’t forget: your client is running a business too. It’s especially important to understand where their company is headed and what their motives to achieve those goals are. They’re all building their brand, and as a partner you should be focused on how to make a seamless, transitional effort through the entirety of your delivery. You’re not just becoming a partner, but an extension of their
- Be real: We are all individuals, have our likes and dislikes, and it’s important during the sale to remember that. Personalize your contact with each person. Check them out on LinkedIn. Maybe you have a mutual friend or graduated from the same college. In your introductory, your client should clearly know you’re not a robot.
Besides being an actual human, remember that there’s a significant difference between being fake and being kind. You don’t have to change who you are for that person to buy your product or service. People see straight through false pretenses; be you, be real and represent your company with pride.
Think about the partnerships in your personal life: your mother, father, siblings, spouse or partner. Are you real with them? Honest? Do you make an effort to understand them, what their needs are and their goals in life? Of course you do. And those relationships are the longest-lasting and most fulfilling partnerships we should and can mimic our business relationships from. Continue to be honest, understand your client’s needs and never forget be real.
Devin Carver, CMP