This is about the time of year that my clients start to call me and ask, “Why can’t I make any progress with my prospects and customers?” (Actually, I hear this all year long, but now it seems to be a bit more pronounced.) More to the point, I also hear from the customers and prospects who ask me for advice about how to “handle” salespeople. So, without further ado, I am publishing this letter from sales on how we can all get along:
- Want to stop the endless phone calls and emails? Free flow of information between people is key. If you’re swamped or are afraid to deliver a message you don’t think we want to hear, please just deliver it anyway. A quick phone call or email goes a long way. Be direct, brief us on your status, and suggest the right time to reconnect. It’s that simple. Then we all know what we need to do next and can move on. And it’s courteous and respectful of our time as well. Who knows, you may need us one day and may want us to communicate as clearly back to you.
- Need more information? Please ask. The essence of sales is the relationship that’s built and underwritten by ongoing dialog and information sharing. Sales professionals are responsible for doing excellent discovery – and if we don’t, then hold us accountable. No one can read minds, and we want to help
- Not getting the service you need? Tell your sales professional and suggest metrics that need to be met, get common agreement, and move on. Speak up and let us know.
- Vendor or a guest? Sales professionals will go to the wall and back if you treat us right. When we’re treated like a guest or a colleague – rather than a vendor – you’ll find we’re even more motivated to do everything we possibly can to meet and exceed your expectations. After all, we’re people too. Conversely, if we do something that is not 100% respectful, let us know that too.
- “Whose side are you on?” There are no “sides.” If either party approaches the sales process as if they’re on a side, then there will be problems. Pure and simple. Be up front and treat us as you’d want to be treated…and watch what happens!
- Are you making this personal? It’s not personal. This is business, and things usually work out when approached in that way. Always keep in mind that our relationship is a professional relationship that needs to be respected by both parties.
Your Sales Professional
As exemplified in this letter, a successful relationship between sales professionals and customers demands mutual respect, which is not a surprise. I recently did a keynote for a client who treated me like a truly valued guest, not a vendor. It was a treat, and all I could think of was how amazing this company was. What did I do for her as a client? Everything I could possible think of and more. And I still do – and will in the future – making both her and me happy. By the same token, I’ve always found that clients treat sales professionals very well who are respectful and listen to their directions.
If you have a challenge with a client relationship, initiating communication is the first step to overcoming the challenge. For example, ask what the client would like to see improved with your sales approach or delivery of service. Then, find the things you both need to work on to move forward and nurture your professional relationship.