September 08, 2009

Customers Relationships: The Era of the Transaction is Over

Three quarters of the sales world still operates on the basis of transactions, not relationships. That is the outdated ‘wham-bam-boom’ model that relies on the prowess of the sales person and still believes in one line closers and slick deal closers.

Picture this; a sales person waits his turn at the sales meeting. Then when asked for an update he launches enthusiastically into describing the 4 great meetings that he has had over the past 4 weeks, the 5 new high level contacts made, the great conversations, the burgeoning relationships, the trust built, etc.

Tapping his pen impatiently on the desk the sales manager can hold back no longer and asks with impatience ’are you going to reach your number for this quarter?’. That was fine before the global economy fell to pieces.

During the boom years you got the deal and then you move swiftly along to the next – after all it was a big marketplace and the next prospect was ripe for the picking. The life time value of the customer was a cliché, because it was today’s sales commission that mattered.

Your long term success depends on building relationships with customers and potential customers, but you will be measured on your numbers this quarter and pretty much that alone. This is particularly the case in the context of the ever lengthening and increasingly start-stop sales cycles involved in selling high value B2B solutions to large organizations.

Today's relationships need to start before the buying process begins, they need to go higher (C level), deeper (from salesperson to trusted advisor) and wider (dealing not just with IT, but with finance, operations, etc.).

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