Here’s an oxymoron – if you want to be successful in the world of sales, stop selling! You don’t need to convince the prospect to do business with you; they must convince themselves that you are the person they prefer to buy from. Prospects and customers don’t just buy the products and services they need, they buy a relationship with someone that they know is looking out for their best interest. Do you really know what it takes to build a solid, long term relationship with a customer? Consider The 3 Laws of Relationship Selling.
Law # 1 – Law of Reciprocity. If you want to receive business from a customer you need to give. Giving of your time and expertise will lead to getting. If your goal is to satisfy your customer’s needs and not your own, then you are giving, and, taking care of the customer trumps all else. Customers enjoy buying from sales professionals that work hard to satisfy their business and personal needs. They love to give the good news to the person that has earned their trust and their business. A trusted sales person becomes the quarterback of the team and helps to decide which team members need to be involved to meet the challenges and needs of the customer. Sales professionals that focus on building a long term relationship earn the right to ask the tough questions that others might not get to ask, or might not get answered. Would you answer a personal question the same way to a stranger that you would to a close friend? I don’t think so. It works the same way with customers. Generosity builds the long term relationship with the customer just as it does with your friends.
Law # 2 – Law of Intention. Your motive is to satisfy your customer’s needs but your intention sets the customer’s expectations. Ideally your intention should be to always exceed their expectations. Have you ever arrived at a store with a sign on the door that says “Open at 7am” yet you’re still waiting for them to open at 7:05? You’ve probably experienced this many times – what goes through your mind? They don’t care, they’re lazy, their apathetic, they come first, not you the customer. Perception is reality and when we over promise and under deliver, it sets us up for failure in the mind of the customer. Then there are those times when we are standing at the door at 6:55 and the staff notices you waiting and they immediately run to the door to let you in, apologizing for making you wait, even though you were early. Isn’t that who you want to give your business to? Customers do business with those that set the expectation of over delivering on their promise. It’s dropping off the proposal on a Thursday when it’s due on Friday. It’s estimating what a project will cost, then coming in under the estimated budget and 2 weeks earlier than planned. That’s what’s called “customer delight”.
Law # 3 – Law of Accountability. It seems like we live in a world where the only time people are accountable for their actions is when there’s good news. You need to be accountable regardless of the nature, and you often have to help your customers be accountable too. It’s easy to blame others for the events and circumstances that affect your customers. Yet that is exactly when you want to take responsibility and avoid the excuses. Accountability means owning up to the good, the bad and the ugly and as the team quarterback it’s your responsibility to communicate the news to the customer. Your customers will respect your honesty even when you are the bearer of bad news. Owning up to customer disappointments shows character. Trust is the combination of the character and expertise you deliver, and customers buy from people they trust. Being accountable will help you build long term trusting relationships with your customers. So, when you can’t deliver on the customer’s expectations, let them know immediately.
To truly serve the needs of your customers, remember the Three Laws of Strong Relationships:
1. Law of Reciprocity
2. Law of Intention
3. Law of accountability
Study each one and reflect on how well you understand and execute on each of these laws. Once mastered, the three laws will help you become the trusted adviser and the quarterback of a team that is in demand for solving customer needs.