I received a decent amount of engagement from this piece of content on LinkedIn a few months ago.
This was one of the posts that inspired me to start this blog.
I found it very insightful to dive deep into sales concepts through my own experiences.
This post got over 500 views and 5-6 reactions on LinkedIn which for me is a big number.
That is the reason I am expanding on it today, there is so much more to say than just what exists in this limited post.
In this piece of content I connected with the heart behind closing a deal and how we should focus less on just the close.
I argue, that we should be more concerned about the opening of a relationship because it can help us (salespeople) and our clients long term.
Let me break it down into three parts:
1. YOU ARE SO MUCH MORE THAN JUST A CASHIER
When you go through the grocery store line, you have limited contact with the person working the register.
You might not even say more than “Hello” to them. If you are like me and you opt for the self checkout every time, you might not speak to a single human in the building.
Sales is a different reality.
You are involved from start to finish, from making the initial phone call, leaving a voicemail, sending an email, following up after the first interaction, talking to other decision-makers, following up again, following up multiple more times, challenging the customer on their objections and then finally, you make the sale!
After that sale is made (whether or not it is actually your last time speaking with them) you shouldn’t let the client feel as if the relationship is over.
Provide some form of transition.
The customer just took a chance with you and the last thing you want is to make them feel like you are going to leave them hanging.
More than likely that buyer made a real human connection with you and you might have affected them substantially.
In a B2B (Business to Business) selling scenario this might not be the case but with personal selling this is quite common.
When I worked in my email marketing sales job, I would always do my best to help usher my customers into the next steps.
My first priority was, of course, to actually sell them but I also wanted to inform them about all the resources that they had available to them after they got off the phone with me.
When the prospect asked me after the purchase “Will I be working with you from now on?” I would have to respond with a strong “No, that will be my support department.”
I would always reassure them that my support team would be best suited to assist them with designing their first email campaign, implementing their contacts, configuring social media buttons and the list goes on.
I would continue by telling them my support team could be reached by chat 24/7 and over the phone 8-8 Monday-Friday.
I would then alert them that I would be sending a thank you email and listed in that email is the support phone number so they would not get it confused with any of the rest of our departments.
I would reassure them that the reason that they chose my company was the fact that we had the best support in the market, the best software, the best track record, and to utilize our team whenever necessary.
Finally, I would make it a point to let them know that even though they couldn’t work with me that there would be a strong team waiting for them whenever they needed help.
2. OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP
When selling restaurant owners on joining my application based community of businesses offering deals/discounts to the local community (the selling I did in the LinkedIn screenshot) I would do a lot of in-person communicating.
Once I had finally secured the signed contract, I could start hosting that restaurant on my application, which had about 70 local businesses already running deals and driving in traffic.
When I got that contract signed, it was time to work out what discounts they were going to offer.
This was arguably the hardest part.
Now I had to take this new found agreement between their business and my company and turn it into deals that would actually excite my users.
It was a tug of war between what I knew the local community would find enticing and what the business owner was willing to give in regards to cost and margins.
Seafood restaurants compared with pizza shops have very different concerns when it came to giving big discounts, especially in the middle of a land-locked state like Colorado.
To create a mutually respectful relationship with these business owners I would have to assert myself at times, by making sure they knew where I stood in regards to the content.
I wanted to inspire my users to take immediate actions, not simply expose their brand.
By pointing this out they would see the reason behind why I was pushing them to give out bigger discounts on their food offers.
This helped me to build trust with them.
Additionally, this showed the business owner that I was interested in providing value for them not just putting their brand and logo out into the local community, without a strong plan for how to create the perfect environment that would foster results.
Ultimately, this helped position me as not merely just a “cashier” or a salesperson who was simply interested in the signed contract, I was there to help them succeed long term.
I took an important opportunity to build even more trust (OPEN THE RELATIONSHIP) by seizing that moment to help position myself as a partner in their business, a person who is invested in their success and would fight for the results that I had originally promised.
3. REAFFIRM LONG-TERM COMMITMENTS
This one is very simple and I already talked about it earlier in this post but there is definitely even more to be said about this aspect.
First, send the proper emails so they can get in touch with you or your company.
If you can’t send an email easily, provide them a business card. It needs to be something tangible so they know that you are within reach if they need you.
If this is not your job and in many cases it might not be, give them the information they will need for whatever support they have available. A corporate phone number, email, support team, management team, whatever it may be.
Let them know they will be taken care of either by you or someone else, but even more importantly make sure they know what they purchased is going to make their life better.
When I worked in application sales I would let my clients know how excited I was to get their content created on my app and help them start bringing in new customers.
Most of the businesses that I sold to were within 1-5 miles of my more dense user base.
I would always mention to them (after getting their agreement) “You are easily within about two miles of roughly 15,000 of my users, these great deals that we just created together are going to drive in so much new traffic as well as give your previous customers a reason to keep engaging with your brand.
Additionally, if for any reason some of these offers don’t perform as intended, I will be in touch with you to make changes that will improve the results.”
This served as reassurance, that I was going to keep in touch with them to make sure my service was providing value longterm.
Again, if this is not your responsibility speak for the team or person that will be available to them moving forward.
What this also accomplished was that it helped to build even more trust and collaboration between my clients and I. This lead to future opportunities.
For example, my company would put on giant free food events to create buzz around their concept.
When it came time to pop the question to see if we could help them put on an event like this which drew tons of traffic into their business but also helped us grow our platform, it was a win-win for the both of us.
If I hadn’t built trust with them previously this wouldn’t have been such an easy proposition.
In addition to these events, my clients would refer other businesses to us and set up even more paid advertising on the app that would cast an even bigger net of coverage. This brought in more revenue to my company all because I had created trust at the end of the sale.
This is what I mean by opening the relationship and not just closing a sale.
Don’t treat your clients like transactions, treat them like the assets that they are.