Owners should respect building blocks of sales team’s relationships
By Leanne Hoagland-Smith April 7, 2012 8:04PM
Leanne Hoagland-Smith. | Provided photo~Sun-Times Media
The relationship between businesses and sales representatives is continual and dynamic one of push pull. Small business owners to sales managers persist to push sales people to increase sales while the sales reps attempt to pull more from their respective organizations.
And the one statement a small business owner never wants to hear while the sales person cannot wait to hear is:
“I buy from you, not from your company.”
This statement makes logical sense because people buy from people not from organizations. Yet many small business owners to sales managers want to believe it is their companies that have developed the loyalty and not the sales reps.
My father, an experienced salesperson, shared with me years ago the first sales- buying rule People buy from people they know and trust.
Dad elaborated on the fact that your customers may not like you, but they must always trust you.
He also discussed how this sales-buying rule worked in congruency with the first sales objection being you as the salesperson. Now many believe price is the first sales objection. However, Dad said price always came after sales objections about you, your company and your solution. Salespeople who sold on price would never make it as high sales, high revenue top sales performers.
For many second generation business owners, this statement of “I buy from you, not from your company” partially helps to explain the high business failure among sons and daughters who took over the family firms. Their established and current external customers bought from their fathers or mothers. Unfortunately, the children translated that customer loyalty as loyalty to the business and not to their parents. Big mistake!
Additionally the internal customers (employees including the sales reps) have loyalty to the person who hired them. This loyalty was earned over time and cannot be easily exchanged because the business is now in the hands of the children.
This “I buy from you, not from your company” also provides greater clarity as to why many mergers also fail. The current internal customers (employees) bought from their direct supervisors. Their buying loyalty is to who hired them, to the president or vice president of the business not to the acquiring firm. The reassignment to dismissal of key personnel along with their replacements being strangers does not foster ongoing internal customer loyalty.
Having personally experienced “I buy from you not from the company” many times in my professional career, I can admit hearing these words still excites me and lets me know that I am conducting business in the right way for the right results.
If you are a small business owner to sales manager and hear these words of “I buy from your sales people, not your company,” refrain from the common reactionary behavior of fear. This is not the time to take negative, defensive, ego-driven action by throwing yourself into that relationship with the goal of wooing away the already established trust from your sales rep because you think you can do it or you want more profits for the business. Rather, become more positive, proactive and humble by asking yourself “How can I continue to build and support the existing external customer relationships with my sales team?”
By taking this approach will not only increase sales, but create a culture where some, not all, of that trust will migrate to your business and more importantly establish a foundation of trust for new customers.
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