In a sales-driven world, it can be hard to remember that the majority of salespersons are not the run-of-the-mill wheeling and dealing sharks you may have heard of. In fact, the best salespersons are the complete opposite. They have mastered what the stereotypical salespeople have not: listening. Yes, you read that right- listening is the cornerstone to building a business relationship. Hell, it’s probably the foundation for any type of relationship but I’ll leave that for a future post.
Sales drive businesses to improve their offerings, it’s what create competition between companies and it’s the reason the majority of us have a job. Because at the end of the day, somewhere down the pipeline, someone is making a sale. And the creative space is no different.
In our space, creating lasting relationships with clients and potential clients is of utmost importance. The main reason being we’re not in a transactional environment, we rely on ongoing business dealings with the same client rather than a turn and burn approach. In addition, our sales cycle is much longer; we have many meetings prior to the start of a project and finally, sell through education. As you educate your client, you’ll become a resource, an asset and ultimately, they will trust and respect you. Below are 7 easy tips that have aided me in knocking down barriers and building relationships.
1. Clear Communication – Be straightforward, attentive and open to dialogue.
2. Provide Feedback – In an attempt to be their partner and build trust, guide them in the right direction.
3. Welcome Feedback – It’s a two-way street, let them tell you what’s on their mind and what they think of the proposed direction.
4. Educate – Everyone wins when you teach and they learn.
5. Follow Through – No one likes to be promised a cake and receive only a slice of it. Deliver on your word.
6. Follow Up – Find out how the [insert product/service] is working for them. Are they
satisfied thrilled with it? What additional services/products could benefit them?
7. Maintain – Grab coffee. Ask about their family. Build relationships outside of work.
These 7 tips give only a glimpse into my relationship-building process and are no way intended to be the cure-all. Nevertheless, they carry years of refinement and have worked in my favor time after time. You may find them all to be useful or you may see them as useless. Either way I’d like to know your thoughts so feel free to share them in the comments section.