The Pangs of Relationship Selling

Without a doubt it is great to have an endless rolodex (if you’re old enough to have one) and an equally strong business reputation.  It often allows a seller to forego prospecting and other steps in the sales qualification process.  Many times, an RFP would land right on their desk.  

I came from an industry where the same players endlessly traded the same business back and forth.  It became a relationship game.   Assumptions were made about the motives of the buyer and the capabilities of the seller.   The RFP was a Request for Price.  However, in a complex sale, starting at price also presents certain issues.   

Did the sales person discover the needs and goals of the buyer?   Did they uncover the obstacles that stand in the way of those goals?  Did they build a solution around their own capabilities that would address those goals?   Did they establish value of their services? 

When sales and distribution teams start with price and forego discovery, many things can go askew in the deal:

  • Wrong services are presented and included in the price.
  • Services actually needed are not presented nor included in the price.
  • All services get included and inflate the price.
  • Buying and decision-making process not understood by the seller.
  • Negotiating process becomes cumbersome and at times adversarial. 
  • Value of services is never established. 

In the end, the seller has to negotiate away dollars rather than value or services.  This leads to margin erosion from the first year of the deal.   Regardless of industry, renewals never seem to outpace inflation and adverse market conditions. 

It is critical that even the most seasoned of sales professionals receives periodic coaching and training on the entire sales process.  We provide content and curriculum based around existing sales process that will enable distribution teams to develop the skills necessary to establish and present solutions with value.