Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Professional Relationships 101

I apologize for missing last week's post, other duties were calling loudly.

My thought of the week involves what I feel is the most basic component to professional relationships - an open door. I'm thinking of this mostly in the context of salesperson/customer relationships.

I'm not sure what it is about our society today, we seem to be either too busy or too cautious when it comes to meeting with people. I've seen it everywhere from consultant/client meetings to sales rep/prospect appointments. Many people simply avoid meeting with salespeople whenever possible.

I don't advocate giving up your time just to be nice to the salesperson, but rather approaching relationship opportunities from the perspective of what do you have to gain.

When you dumb it down, a salesperson's job is to identify prospective customers for a product, introduce them to the product, and justify purchasing the product. They only sell products that are designed carefully with eventual customer benefit in mind, so what do you have to lose?

Certainly, you can't afford to buy everything. Whether you're a business trying to budget equipment, wages, inventory, advertising, etc, or a consumer balancing cell phone, cable, internet, banking, and utility services, you have choices that you need to make.

In making those choices, however, why do we avoid conversations with the very people we who have the training to fully explain the benefits of each product?

I think the load is shared by both parties. Consumers need to step out of their shells and be willing to engage in exploratory conversations about products that may be beneficial to them. Likewise, salespeople need to cut back on aggressive sales approaches and realize that by educating everyone about what they can offer, they can find the ones who truly need them.

I'm painting two extremes here, but there's plenty more ground between those sides than there is behind either one of them.

Here's to spending time this week making yourself a better partner in the sales process, whichever side you are on.