Professional salespeople, like any serious professionals, have a goal of building excellent relationships with other people in both their personal and professional lives. Building excellent relationships is a habit, and it produces wonderful rewards.
But relationships can be very fragile. Many marriages don’t survive and many business relationships thrive for a while and then fall apart. We call this the Double Spiral. We are in the Upward Spiral when things are going well, when our confidence is high and our important relationships are healthy and flourishing. The opposite is the case if we slip into the Downward Spiral. Things start to unravel, a lack of communication occurs, stress increases and life becomes a constant struggle. Relationships are polarized during the Downward Spiral.
Let’s take a quick look at how the Downward Spiral shows up in real life. To more clearly understand how this can impact on your current and future client relationships, think of a personal or business relationship that didn’t work out. Create in your mind all the steps that caused this relationship to fall apart. Go back as far as you can and record what happened. When you carefully reflect on what causes relationships to fall apart, you can take steps to heal them and be better prepared for the next one.
The Upward Spiral certainly is more fun to analyze, but when you do, you stand to reap the rewards quicker in your future relationships. Repeat the process of recalling steps that caused this relationship to flourish. But this time, focus on a relationship that you gradually nourished, expanded and enriched until it blossomed into a wonderful, long-term friendship or business relationship. You will enjoy a tremendous advantage in the marketplace when you develop an accurate blueprint that you can duplicate many times in the future. Powerful relationships ensure powerful results.
Avoid Toxic People
Before we move on, please heed this important advice: avoid toxic people! Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who see the world as one big problem, and in their eyes you’re part of it. No matter how well things are going, they focus on the nitpicking little negative details. And they do it constantly. It’s a habit that totally destroys relationships.
You may be thinking at this point, “Easier said than done. Do you mean if a friend I’ve known for years talks like this, should I just turn and walk away?” No, RUN! His constant negativity will drain the life out of you. Now please understand, we’re not talking about someone who has a genuine challenge and needs real help. We’re referring to those chronic whiners who take great pleasure in dumping all their negative garbage on your plate at every opportunity. It’s the highlight of their day. Don’t put up with it anymore.
Core Clients and The Double Win
The important step in developing the habit of Excellent Relationships is learning to nourish your most valuable relationships in a win-win atmosphere. A lot has been written and spoken about the philosophy of win-win in selling and sales negotiation. But win-win is essentially a philosophy of how you live your life. In business, win-win means having a genuine concern for the other person; that they win as much as you do. Sadly, however, the attitude of many people in business has been to grind every last cent out of every situation. These so-called guerrilla tactics cause a lack of trust, cynicism, questionable ethics and a high level of anxiety in the marketplace. The result is win-lose. On the other hand, win-win doesn’t mean giving the farm away every time you make a deal. That’s lose-win, which would eventually put you out of business. There’s also another category called lose-lose. This happens when both parties are too stubborn or too egotistical to create a winning solution.
Building Excellent Core Client Relationships
A crucial element in growing your business is building excellent core client relationships. Core clients are at the heart of your business. They buy from you consistently and are a main source of revenue. They are also happy to provide excellent referrals for new business because they genuinely love your products and service.
Amazingly, many salespeople today don’t even know who their core clients are. Core clients are your passport to future growth. Unfortunately, these important relationships are often taken for granted. The attitude is, “He always orders two thousand units a month. We need to focus on new business.”
Not Every Deal is Worth Saving
New business is important. Staying in touch with your best clients is more important. It’s a lot more difficult to find new customers than it is to keep and serve your old customers.
Be aware of the time you spend on people who are peripheral clients. The word peripheral is worth noting. It means at the outer edge, unimportant or not worth mentioning. Another term is dispensable. Do you have any peripheral clients in your business? If you’re not sure, here’s how you can spot them. They commonly take a lot of your time and energy and give you very little business in return. Sometimes they give you no business at all. But they will question you on every little detail, and they’ll place unreasonable demands on your time. Of course, you may not want to turn any business away from your door. But what is it costing you in time and energy to dabble in minor results? Some deals just aren't worth the effort.
You Don’t Want to Lose Your Core Clients
There’s one critical element you need to understand about your core clients. You don’t ever want to lose them. Here’s the big question. How much real time do you spend with your more important core clients? Our research indicates that very little time is allocated to core clients. Consequently, these relationships never mature to their full potential. On the bottom line, that means a lot of money is squandered.
Now that you know who these important people are, pay more attention to them. The long-term rewards are well worth the effort. Your business will increase, and you’ll also minimize the likelihood of losing any of these top clients to your competitors.
You will probably offer your core clients special services and all those little extras that define you as unique. These may include golf outings, dinners or special trips. You could take time to share ideas of advising how to handle certain challenges. Maybe you consistently provide good referrals to expand their business. The more you know about the people on your core client list and core personal list, the more you can help them. And the true spirit of win-win means that you make these contributions unconditionally.
Successful salespeople create an information file for every one of their core clients and core personal relationships. They find out everything they can about these individuals including their likes and dislikes, favorite restaurants, birthdays, anniversaries, kids’ names, favorite hobbies, sports and pastimes.
Be Willing to Go the Extra Mile
It takes time and effort to cultivate highly successful relationships. It means that you will often be required to go the extra mile. This way of living gradually becomes your new normal behavior. You do it without thinking. When win-win behavior becomes truly embedded in your everyday life, the floodgates of opportunity will open up for you like never before. You will indeed be richer for it, and we don’t just mean financially.