When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In school, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play, and being “nice” to them. In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends…not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who care about you.

There is a feature in a local newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.

Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your favorites automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend…someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs and it can be created no matter what your product or service is.

You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services, home remodeling or repairs, printing services, financial services, tutoring or signage, but you’re not. Even if your products are sold only to other businesses, the business doesn’t make the buying decision. A person does. You are in the people business. Learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of your career.

Maybe you sell tires, not breakfast. Even so, you should introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a home where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need highway tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of their answers will help you build long-term relationships.

No matter what your business is, every client should receive your best care during the sales process and after. During the initial sale, get them talking and take good notes. Enter the information into your client database. My colleague Harvey Mackay has a long list of details he requires his salespeople to gather about clients over time. This includes not just information required to do business, but a few personal details such as birthdays, whether or not they’re married, children’s names, and whether or not they have pets. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale.

People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale, and who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them comes along. That type of treatment makes clients feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.

Copyright Tom Hopkins International, Inc.

Why Sales Training Programs Fail

Reason #8:

Does it always make sense to train everyone on the sales team the same program or content? There are some companies who believe that they must include everyone as they plan for sales training. The goal might be to develop a common sales language, process, and methodology. It’s easier for managers to manage one consistent process and speak a common sales language when working with their teams.

Even though we design these great plans and do so with solid intentions to have a universal program that will somehow meet everyone’s needs, oftentimes we miss the desired outcome because there are people on our team that will not benefit from the content or program. Another possibility is that maybe they aren’t ready for the program and content yet, they may be too new in their role. And the other side of that is that maybe they are already crushing their number and anything we try and teach them may actually end up slowing them down.

Here’s the deal:

  • Our top performers are doing just fine, they are killing it. They are making money, and sometimes our very best of intentions just gets in their way. Do they want the newest, latest and greatest tips and techniques? Maybe, probably, but then again, maybe not. What they want is whatever will give them the best advantage to maintain their position on the leaderboard and increase their income and work/life balance.
  • Our unproven and under-performing salespeople may be another population who can wait on further training or tools and technologies. As a matter of fact, one of the biggest mistakes I have seen played out time and time again is implementing a sales training program or content that is advanced beyond the team’s or person’s capability or tenure in the business. What this group wants is something that is going to help them demonstrate success to themselves and to the company in the shortest amount of time.
  • That leaves us with the moveable middle. And the situation here is that the moveable middle is never dead center, not everyone falls in a vertical line in the middle of the bell curve, do they? They are all scattered somewhere along the continuum of the moveable middle. And the reality is, all we need to do is help move each person slightly to the right of where they are now in the bell curve to have a massive impact on our business and revenue.

The idea here is to stay within the investment zone of the bell curve. And that zone or window will be different for each of you in this room based on the structure and nuances of your organization. And having done this for as long as I have been doing this, If I had to help people find, create, ask for, and justify a budget, I help them to FOCUS and identify what to invest in, who to invest in, and when to invest in the project or people.

Some of the greatest salespeople we have known or worked with demonstrated strength and highly developed skills in:

  • Building a healthy self-image
  • Developing and maintaining a positive attitude
  • Building winning relationships at home and at work
  • Using “Hope” as a tactic and activator
  • Setting and achieving goals

This is an example from a Zig Ziglar program, Strategies for Success, that has been updated and modified to meet today’s learner. And it is the type of content and concepts that provide the confidence to seek and achieve selling success. For people who are new to sales, an argument can be made that this type of program should be what they go through first, before entering a professional sales training program. Just imagine how we could accelerate success and reduce turnover if we had our new or new-to-sales folks achieving greater success earlier in their career.

Best Practice #1: There are many levels of success within your organization, sometimes when we try and train the masses, we can also compromise the learning. Really try and isolate where the biggest gaps are, and the opportunity for the greatest growth, and start there first instead of trying to train everyone.

Best Practice#2: Go through the exercise of discovery and identify the gaps across the organization based on performance, tenure with the company, and how long they have been in professional selling. Look for the best opportunities to move the needle. Once this exercise has been completed, look for content and training programs that can close the gaps and move the company forward.

Best Practice #3: When not trying to train the masses companies can maintain tighter control on the cohorts, manage the number of people in the classroom, and invest their budgets in the areas that will yield the greatest results.

Remember, managing sales teams by plotting them on a bell curve can give us greater visibility into where the biggest gaps and challenges are amongst the team. This then allows us to determine where we can apply the training that will have the biggest impact. And if finding or getting a budget has been a challenge or if it will be a challenge, getting much clearer on who is going to be trained and why the more likely the training budget will be approved.