Sales depend on relationships, the relationship between seller and buyer most of all. Collaboration is a necessary skill for any successful salesperson. While it used to be the case that the salesperson or marketer pushed the product, that process has changed a great deal over the years. First, it was the salesperson selling. Next, the prospect pulled the product from the marketer. These days, everyone works together.
In the best sales deals, both the potential client and the salesperson are working together to find the best solution. The prospect wants to find the best fit, and the seller wants a happy customer. It’s in both of their best interests to come to a mutually beneficial agreement.
Modern-day deals can involve willful disbelief. The person being sold to doesn’t want to think they’re being sold to. Consequently, the salesperson doesn’t want to seem like they’re selling. While this relationship is transactional by nature—the two people would not be speaking if there was not a deal to be made—these conversations don’t have to be superficial. Rather, both sides of the conversation should see this relationship as an opportunity. Building trust in those relationships can result not only in good business, but in a building a good network that paves the way for other business to come.
Be a Team Player
It’s tempting to think of sales as a solitary pursuit. However, done right, it’s one of the most collaborative jobs out there. While not every salesperson works within a team, or sells in tandem with others, the position is inherently one that requires cooperation. Being single-minded about the right way to sell or only treating prospects as a tool for generation revenue or commission is a good way to get nowhere fast. Learn from other salespeople and help others when you can.
Use every conversation as a learning opportunity. Though it can at times feel like you and the person being sold to have opposite objectives, you’re both working towards similar goals—finding the right fit. Selling to a person who won’t end up using your product, or who won’t enjoy the product in the long run, only benefits you in the short term. So, collaborate! Think of your prospect as a teammate, someone to work with to achieve that long-term goal: a mutually beneficial business relationship.
Be Generous with Your Resources
As a salesperson, an understandable impulse might be to play your cards close to the chest. That’s helpful—to a point. But prospects and customers can sense when you’re only doing the bare minimum. Nothing tarnishes a relationship like the sense that the other person is only interacting with you out of obligation. Or, worse, in the hope of profiting off your goodwill.
Instead, intuit what the prospect is really looking for, and find a way to go above and beyond. If their biggest pain point is financial, make sure they know all their options, and where they can get the biggest bang for their buck. If they’re feeling stretched thin, send them resources to help lighten their load, whether that be helpful websites or other contacts who can offer support.
Even if you have limited resources, try changing the way you go through your typical talk path. Start more statements with “I can give you” or “One good option I can recommend,” making standard practices feel like special opportunities you’re opening them up to. Elevate the mundane, and make sure the prospect knows how happy you are to send them in the right direction.
Touch Base Often
Of course, this all depends on the type of prospect you’re speaking with. Know your limits. If the person on the other end of the phone is asking for more and more, don’t be afraid to say the word no. Show them respect by being open about your limitations. Some prospects might be put off by this, but many will appreciate you more for being candid with them and proving you aren’t a pushover.
At the end of the day, stick with your gut. Continually self-reflect on those relationships to ensure you aren’t being taken advantage of—or fostering a relationship that will never bear fruit. A big part of any collaborative business relationship is honesty, and that starts with saying no when you need to say no. If you’ve had multiple long conversations that haven’t lead to any business on your end, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your prospect.
Touching base often and honestly with those prospects and clients will encourage them to do the same. These continual conversations can prevent misunderstanding and bad blood down the road. Nurture those relationships, and good things will follow.