The Art Of Selling: Building Strong Business Relationships

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Jerry Montgomery

In today’s highly competitive business world, product lifecycles are shortened, and there is an increased ability to quickly copy or replicate industry-leading products. This makes the relationship between the customer and the salesperson even more important. It also means the knowledge and experience of the seller is more valuable than ever. Good salespeople are getting harder to find because their roles are changing and many companies do not invest in training.

Professional, well-trained sellers who understand their roles and responsibilities and are managed by companies who demand accountability are few in number. Excellent salespeople have at least one thing in common — they build strong relationships with their customers. They understand if they participate in making the customer more successful and more competitive, the customer will reward them with increased sales volumes.
There are the key elements of building long-term, enduring relationships:

  • Develop an understanding of the customer’s business, who they sell to, where they sell, how they sell and how they produce or acquire the goods they sell.
  • Find out who the influential people are in the organization that can influence the final buying decisions.
  • Find out who the incumbent major supplier is and discover their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Figure out the biggest problems this customer is facing to be either more profitable or more competitive?

The real key to developing long-term relationships with customers is always taking a sincere interest in their issues and challenges. Never discuss things like current incentive programs, sales goals or quotas.
The real pros uncover problems and provide workable solutions; that is how they win business.

Jerry Montgomery (mrplug@cfl.rr.com) is a veteran of the floriculture industry who has worked for distributor companies, breeders and large growers with a focus on sales and marketing. As an industry consultant, Montgomery works for large growers, distributors and breeder/producers. His focus is to understand the market dynamics from breeder to consumer through intense retail travel, visiting about 2,700 stores since 2008.

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