B2B relationships, and the sales that result from them, are a fascinating topic. The psychology of sales in itself is interesting, and has been written and theorised about for many years. One of the most famous books on the subject is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People, from 1936. It’s still one of the top selling books on sales and relationships, and it was published over 80 years ago!
Some people find sales difficult because it involves communicating with another person where there is a power differential – one person has all the power as the buyer and one person is trying to convince them to spend the cash. I tend to think rather differently about the process, and consider two points to be pivotal to good, service-oriented sales:
- If you are offering a useful solution then you are helping out, not selling.
- There is quantifiable value to great B2B relationships, so work on building a partnership, rather than thinking of sales as just transactional.
The latter point is particularly important. If a salesperson tries hard to build a great partnership between one organisation and another and – for whatever reason – the sale doesn’t work out, then it’s almost certain that their efforts will still be remembered. Sales can happen at a later date because of earlier efforts to build partnerships.
I saw some fascinating research in the Harvard Business Review recently that suggested 82% of managers are influenced by what they see when they search the internet for the name of a person who is trying to sell to them. It should be obvious to anyone today that if you are thinking about doing business with someone then you will Google their name or search for them in LinkedIn. Frankly, I think the figure is likely closer to 100%. Who goes to a sales meeting without looking up the people you are about to meet?
It’s a surprise what people forget when trying to build B2B relationships and make sales. The importance of building a trusting relationship and offering service equal to or better than that offered in B2C cannot be understated. Luckily, there are experts that can offer B2B services as part of an overall drive to build trusting professional partnerships, as opposed to a “sell, sell, sell!” approach.
What is your experience of smart sales? Leave a comment below, or get in touch on LinkedIn, and let me know.