Sales Coaching Series, Part 8: Why do I have to waste all this time on relationship-building?

This question was asked of me at a seminar recently. In fact, the full question was, "why do I have to waste all of this time on relationship building, when I could be out there picking the low hanging fruit and selling... and making easy money?".

What do you think the answer to that is?

Look, if you want to go after low hanging fruit business, don't let me stop you and knock yourself out!

However, you got to ask yourself if this is a sustainable way of building up long-term, profitable and loyal customers? I don't think so.

I know it is a cliché, however, it is said that "people buy people". In fact I would go so far as to say that prospects will buy you first, then your company followed by your product or service. This means that you must spend a great deal of time on yourself. Get to know and be aware of what others see when you are approaching them. What is your style, your behaviour, your temperament…the way that you sell. If you were a customer of yourself, ask yourself would like to be treated the way that I treat my prospects?


Why is all this, pre-sales attitude, self awareness and temperament "stuff" so important nowadays?

Just like the world of work has changed, there is been a paradigm shift in the world of sales also. Think of the customers today, as opposed to 5, 10, 15 years ago. They are far more aware and informed about the products and services that they are going to buy.

Everybody Googles in advance today! So if you are dealing with a far more educated pool of prospects, you had better be as knowledgeable and informed about the choices that they have before you approach them.

Competition is everywhere. Many retailers complain, and rightly so, about the fact that their shops are becoming fitting rooms for "tyre-kickers" only for people to go back home and order the same product, online. Face-to-face selling therefore has to be far more relationship based than in the past, not just in retail, but everywhere.

In part seven, I mentioned the fact that you need to think of yourself as someone akin to a consultant, a doctor or trusted adviser. You would never walk into a medical practitioner's office and the doctor tell you immediately what is exactly wrong with you, write a prescription and turn you out the door to pay your bill at reception!

This would lack all sorts of integrity, honesty and I'm sure your confidence to go back in the future would be destroyed.

We therefore cannot manipulate people into buying our product or service. They have to see that we understand them, we know where their pain is and we know what they would wish to gain from dealing with us.

We will talk in the future about how you emphasise benefits rather than features when you are presenting your offering. Focusing on the benefits puts the customer or the prospect at the centre of the conversation. If you start talking about the features, you are very often showing off about how much you know about the technical side or "what's under the bonnet" in relation to your offering. If you find peoples' eyes glazing over, you may be falling into this trap. Avoid at all costs unless somebody is really, really, really (did I say really?) interested in how the thing works.

You cannot make assumptions about the prospect. The only way you will know how the prospect is thinking and feeling, and may act in the future, is by building a relationship with them and asking them questions.


Have you got your questions ready? Take a minute and write down the typical questions that will enable you to diagnose where the customer's pain is right now, what they are thinking about, and maybe dreaming about, in terms of the type of product or service that you are offering so that when you come to the presenting, you can customise it to each prospect situation.

In next week's blog, we will talk more about how you build that trusting relationship, so that the prospect will open up to you.

Contact us to discuss your corporate and executive coaching requirements: