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Building Relationships is the Focus

December 13, 2009
Mary Jane Copps

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First, I want to apologize for some of the typos I’m finding in my posts when I re-read them. Shame on me! I’ll be more diligent in my proofreading. Second, although I’ve used the telephone as my primary sales tool the past 23 years, it doesn’t feel that way at all. In fact I sometimes correct people when they call me a salesperson because my work doesn’t seem to be about selling things. It seems to be about providing people with information I believe has potential value to them (because I’ve done my research) and then talking with them to see if my research and assumptions are correct. As I mentioned in my earlier post, it is all about asking questions, inspiring conversation so that you are learning more about your potential customer – and they are learning more about you and your product/service. Close-ended questions – those that require only a yes or no answer – certainly serve a purpose on the phone. They are used to begin conversations, to get permission from a potential client to present your information. But once you have completed your concise description of your product or service, you want to move into open-ended questions. These are the questions that start with who, what, when, where, how or why. Here’s a few samples: What resources are you currently using to promote a high level of teamwork in your organization? When do you meet to discuss your advertising budget? Who else is involved in making your training decisions? Where are you hoping to increase your customer base? How do you currently find more potential donors for your organization? These are the kinds of questions that start a true dialogue, where your potential client begins to reveal what they need and want, and where you have the opportunity to fulfill those needs. Of course, just like in Miracle on 34th Street, if you can’t fulfill those needs, it is vital that you say so – and perhaps even direct the potential customer in the right direction. This is how you build relationships. Being honest and forthright at all times will provide you with a lifetime of business associates that trust you. Because it is not about the sale – it is about the relationship!

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