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A Great Way to Prevent a Deal: Relationship Management.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust. If a salesperson believes this statement is true, they are inclined to step into a big trap. Why? While this idea is not fundamentally wrong, it can be wrongly interpreted, which can lead to behavior that kills a deal instead of promoting it.

Naturally people prefer to interact with people they know and like but nowadays it’s not solely about the personal contact. It’s not enough anymore to invite clients to a lunch and show up at every event, it’s more about relevant recognition. We live in an era of Information Overflow. People have learned to quickly screen for value and relevancy. Blogs and P/Vodcasts are the new books. Not the person who is viewed the most, but the one who delivers the most relevant content wins.

HubSpot is a pioneer in this field. The sales team employees blog about various topics on a regular basis. That way customers recognize them as relevant experts rather than sales personnel, and take them more seriously at face value.

The biggest misconception is in the terms 'like' and 'trust'. Old school practices like Relationship Management make salespeople believe, that they are able to establish trust better, when they meet their customer needs and demands. What happens is, that Salespeople think, that the more transparent they are and the more information they provide to a potential customer, the more trusted and liked they become. They try to promote decisions by giving all data requested by the client. By practicing this tactic, they don’t realize that every new detail given will send the client into an open-ended learning-loop. To make matters worse, just to not jeopardize the relationship they will follow the buying process dictated by the client. This can lead to a sort of decision paralysis and to a much longer sales cycle, if a deal comes about at all.

A US study conducted by CEB* found that this behavior drives an 18% decrease in purchase ease and an increase of post purchase regret at approximately 50%. On the other hand: a proactive and prescriptive approach that guides customers through decision making increases the likelihood of purchase ease approximately 86% and decreases the likelihood of purchase regret approximately 37%.

Customers don’t buy just because they like somebody. They don’t buy because they get drawn in by data & Information. Trust is not about transparency. Trust is about consistency.

People buy, if a seller is able to solve their challenges and minimize the complexity and risk of a decision. They buy, if every interaction with a seller adds relevant value. For the company or/and for the buyer personally. They buy, if the seller delivers what he promised. During and after the sales process.

“Most reps rely on a customer to coach them through a sale; star reps coach the customer.”

(HBR, July-August 2012, The End of Solution Sales)

What are your experiences with guiding customers? Leave a comment below so we can learn from each other.

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