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In Relationship Selling Don’t Forget to Talk About Business!

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Bill didn’t understand how he’d lost a major account he’d called on for years. The buyer, Alex, was his buddy.  Bill had called on Alex for over twelve years, entertained him, talked sports, family, even politics, so how could Alex betray him and award the business to a competitor?

One of the dangers in Relationship Selling is the tendency to talk about everything but business.

Yes, Bill and Alex were friends, but where did they meet? On the job. What originally drew them together and forged the initial bond? Work. By helping Alex achieve his personal goals and personal priorities and personal problems as they related to his job, Bill began to believe his relationship with Alex trumped those goals, priorities, and problems as they drew closer and became friends. Over the years however, Bill allowed the “relationship” to interfere with the business; he feared that by bringing up business issues, asking for information, asking for more of what he was providing, for new items, or asking hard questions he would alienate his “friend.”

Never forget you’re there to sell!

How would you handle your accounts if you were a brand new salesperson in the territory at both the established and prospective accounts?  My guess is you’d survey the territory, ask a lot of questions, and continually seek information.  You’d always be on the lookout for new business at old accounts and actively looking for problems you could solve, thereby earning the business.  Bill quit earning the business and therefore he lost it.

Related: 7 Sales Challenges that Prevent Executive Level Access

Go back to your “old friends” and tell them it struck you the other day that it’s been awhile since the two of you sat and talked about what’s going on with the business, what is new, what has changed, and what you can do to make his job better.
You’ll be surprised at what you’ll learn and gain, and make the relationship stronger.  If you don’t, when that new rep comes into the territory and asks the questions and gets the answers you should have gotten, don’t be surprised when he walks away with your business.
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