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The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work
Chapter 3-The Power of Building Relationships: Putting Adaptive Selling to Work
Video Ride-Along with Tonya Murphy, General Sales Manager at Radio Station WBEN-FM
Meet Tonya Murphy. Tonya has been in sales for seventeen years and has developed long-term relationships with her customers. She is a general sales manager and responsible for the salespeople that sell advertising for WBEN-FM. Customers include national advertisers such as Toyota, AT&T, and Comcast as well as local businesses that want to build awareness and drive traffic to their stores. Tonya believes that building trust is key to building relationships and ultimately building sales. Listen to Tonya share her insights about why she believes relationships are so important in selling and her tips for building successful relationships.
Ride along with Tonya and hear her insights about the power of relationships in selling.
3.1 The Power of Relationship Selling
- Understand why relationships are so important in selling.
- Explain how relationships bring value through consultative selling.
- Identify who wins in the win-win-win relationship model.
- Explain how networking builds relationships and businesses.
It was 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve and Ray Rizzo’s father, in town for the annual family get-together, had forgotten to bring his suit. What made the situation even more challenging was that Ray’s father is rather portly with a forty-eight-inch waist and even broader shoulders, a build that requires a fifty-three-short jacket. Ray and his father rushed to Mitchells, a local clothing store in Connecticut, and asked Jack Mitchell, the owner, for his help. It was hard to imagine that Ray’s father would possibly be able to get a suit or even a sport jacket tailored to fit in time for the family gathering. After all, it was Christmas Eve, and the store would be closing in an hour. Jack didn’t hesitate and immediately enlisted Domenic, the head tailor, and before 6 o’clock that evening, the largest pair of pants and jacket in the store were tailored to fit Ray’s father perfectly. Needless to say, Ray is a customer for life.Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 22.
This situation is what Jack Mitchell calls a hug. If you go shopping for clothes at Mitchells or Richards in Connecticut, you will get hugged. Maybe not literally, but you will most definitely get “hugged” figuratively. Jack Mitchell, the CEO of Mitchells/Richards and author of Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results, says, “Hugging is a way of thinking about customers. To us, hugging is a softer word for passion and relationships. It’s a way of getting close to your customers and truly understanding them.”Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 28.
From Personal to Problem Solving
Think about your best friend. You know her so well that you can just about finish each other’s sentences. You know her favorite flavor and brand of ice cream, and you can sense when she is having a bad day. You text and talk to her all the time; you even go out of your way to surprise her sometimes with a gift that you know she will like. You have a great relationship with her.
Now think about the last time you went into your favorite restaurant. Was it the same kind of experience? Did the host greet you by name and seat you at your favorite table? Did the waitperson remember that you like to drink raspberry-flavored iced tea? Was your fish served with the sauce on the side, just the way you like it? Were you delighted with a new flavor of cappuccino after dinner? When these things happen, the people at the restaurant make you feel special; after all, you are the reason they are there. When you have a relationship like this with the people at the restaurant, you are more inclined to return to the restaurant again and again. If these things don’t happen, it is easier for you to choose a different restaurant the next time you go out.
The bottom line is that to be successful in selling, any kind of selling, you have to make selling personal. People do business with people, not with companies. Even in the business-to-business (B2B) selling channel, it is people who are making decisions on behalf of the company for which they work. Every sale starts with a relationship. If your relationship is strong, there is a higher likelihood of a sale and a loyal repeat customer. That means you have to get to know your customer on a one-to-one basis to understand what he wants, what he needs, and what resources he has. This concept is called relationship selling (or consultative selling).Claire Sykes, “Relationship Selling,” Surface Fabrication 12, no. 1 (January–February 2006): 58. It is defined by working personally with your customer to understand his needs, put his needs first, and provide consultation to help him make the best decision for himself or his business.
You might be thinking that selling is about the product or service, not about relationships. But that’s not true. You may have heard someone say, “He’s just a pushy salesman,” or you may have experienced someone trying to give you the “hard sell.” The fact is that selling has evolved dramatically over the past thirty years. Business is more competitive. The use of technology and the expanded number of product and service offerings have developed a need for consultative selling in more industries than ever before. It used to be that salespeople wanted to simply make a sale, which meant that the sale began and ended with the transaction. But now, it’s not enough to just make the sale. In today’s competitive world, it’s how you think about the customer that matters.Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 16. It’s the difference between giving the customer what she needs rather than what you want to sell her.Jack Mitchell, Hug Your Customers: The Proven Way to Personalize Sales and Achieve Astounding Results (New York: Hyperion, 2003), 20. The fact is that the sale is just one small part of the relationship. The real essence of selling is in the relationship.Jeffrey Gitomer, “The Difference between an Account and a Relationship,” Long Island Business News, August 3, 2007, http://libn.com/blog/2007/08/03/the-difference-between-an-account-and-a-relationship/(accessed June 29, 2009).
The salesperson has a new role in most companies. The days of the salesperson as “product pusher” are just about gone. Customers in B2B and business-to-consumer (B2C) environments want and demand more. Consider the evolution of some major industries. Many of the leading hotel chains keep your preferences in a database so that their front desk sales team can recognize you personally at check-in and provide the queen-sized bed in a nonsmoking room on the quiet side of the property that you prefer. Restaurants work hard to learn, remember, and greet you by your name, maintain your favorite table, wine, and entrée, and prepare to anticipate your every need. Airlines have tools to recognize you and the fact that you like an aisle seat as far forward as possible in the plane.Jim Sullivan and Phil Roberts, Service That Sells! The Art of Profitable Hospitality (Denver: Pencom Press, 1991), 151. All these tactics are steeped in the theory that customers make choices on the relationship they have with brands. In each one of these situations, the salesperson is the difference that sets a brand apart at the moment of truth, the moment the customer comes in contact with the brand.Howard Lax, “Fun, Fun, Fun in a Customer Experience Way,” Banking Strategies 84, no. 6 (November–December 2008): 64. Some brands understand how important each moment of truth is when creating relationships with customers. For example, Southwest Airlines makes their Web site easy to use, has humans answer the phone, and has flight and ground attendants that make it a pleasure to travel with them.
Power Selling: Lessons in Selling from Successful Brands
Johnson Controls, manufacturer of heating and air conditioning systems, thinks that consultative selling is so important that it holds a Basic Boot Camp for the company’s territory managers at its headquarters in Norman, Oklahoma, that focuses on leveraging relationships in selling. The classroom-style “boot camp” includes interactive exercises, product training, and business support training. The company’s commitment to consultative selling doesn’t end there. Participants who score at least an 85 percent on their final grade for the Basic Boot Camp and spend six months out in the field can qualify to attend the elite Special Operations Training, which is by invitation only.“Johnson Controls Runs Boot Camp,” Heating & Refrigeration News233, no. 6 (April 14, 2008).
Relationships are so important in selling that one study surveyed one hundred top B2B salespeople and found that they attribute 79 percent of their success to their relationships with customers.Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29. It is the relationship with a customer that allows you to bridge the gap between a customer’s problem and the solution. The relationship is the framework for consultative selling; it’s what allows you to have an open, honest dialogue, ask the right questions, understand your customer’s needs, and go beyond advising to helping your customer make the decision that’s right for her.Demmie Hicks, “The Power of Consultative Selling,” Rough Notes 151, no. 7 (July 2008): 701.
Selling relationships start as personal relationships. Making a personal connection is vital in the two to ten minutes of a customer encounter or meeting.Cathy Berch, “Consultative Selling: Ask, Don’t Tell,” Community Banker 18, no. 4 (April 2009): 261. Think about the last time you bought a new cell phone. Chances are, if the person didn’t establish rapport with you from the start, you probably walked away and bought the phone from a different salesperson, maybe even at a different store. The relationship includes a sincere bond that goes beyond business and includes common interests and goals.Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29. If you are selling medical imaging equipment to hospitals, you want to build relationships with the administrators, doctors, and nurses who will be using your equipment in each hospital. When you build a relationship starting with what’s important to each person individually, it’s easier to expand that relationship to sharing information and problem solving from a business perspective. As Bob Fitta, a manufacturer’s rep for several tool companies said about Paul Robichaud, owner of Robi Tools, “I got to know him as a business person and a real person, and that relationship has endured.”Brad Perriello, “Relationship—Selling at its Best,” Industrial Distribution 97, no. 9 (September 2008): 34.
But consultative selling is more than simply building rapport. In fact, consultative selling goes beyond the product or service you are selling; it even goes beyond the selling process. It is the “X factor,” the intangible element that makes a customer choose your product or service even when the competition is priced lower. Consultative selling is about your personal involvement and sincere focus on problem solving that goes beyond selling to true partnership with the customer.
Consultative selling doesn’t start and stop at specific times during the relationship. In fact, it defines the relationship before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale.Cathy Berch, “Don’t Wing It,” Community Banker 18, no. 2 (February 2009): 18. You will learn about the seven steps of the selling process in Chapter 7 “Prospecting and Qualifying: The Power to Identify Your Customers” through Chapter 13 “Follow-Up: The Power of Providing Service That Sells” and how building long-term relationships and consultative selling are the basis of each step. The concept of building professional relationships is apparent in this example: If you are selling insurance, consider the fact that your customer may eventually buy a home, have a family, or purchase a second property. So the relationship you develop when you sell him car insurance as a young single man could and should be nurtured and developed over time to provide solutions that answer his needs as his lifestyle changes. Having this long-term view of customer relationships is called focusing on lifetime value. It means that you consider not just one transaction with a customer, but also the help and insight you can provide throughout the entire time frame during which you do business with him. So, although you may only provide him with basic car insurance now, over the course of more than twenty-five years that you do business with him, you may ultimately sell him thousands of dollars of insurance and investment products that meet his changing needs. But that won’t happen if you don’t continue your relationship and keep in touch, focusing on topics and events that are important to him. If you focus only on the immediate sale, you will miss a lot of business, not to mention future referrals.
There are several elements that can be included in the calculation of the lifetime value of a customer. However, a simple formula is
dollar value of purchase × gross profit percent × number of purchases.
For example, if a customer shopped at a retailer and spent $75 on one purchase that had a gross profit of 30 percent, the lifetime value of that customer would be $22.50, calculated as
$75 × 30% × 1 = $22.50.
If the customer made five purchases for $75 each over the course of the time she shopped with the retailer (let’s say five years), at a gross profit of 30 percent, the lifetime value of the customer would be $112.50, calculated as
$75 × 30% × 5 = $112.50.Michael Gray, “How Do You Determine Customer Lifetime Value?” Profit Advisors, May 20, 1999, http://www.profitadvisors.com/busfaq/lifetime.shtml (accessed November 30, 2009).
So you can see that the concept of retaining a customer for more than one purchase can provide financial benefits. In addition, working with the same customer over the course of time provides an opportunity to learn more about the customer’s needs and provide solutions that better meet those needs.
CRM Tools Help You Manage Relationships
With so many demands on your time as a salesperson, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of some customers and not follow up, which means that you may only be developing short-term relationships. Or you might unintentionally let your relationship with a customer “lapse into laziness,” which means that you let the relationship run on autopilot, relying on your established relationship to keep the business going. In this case, there’s usually no pressing reason to change; you might think that as long as the customer is happy, everything is OK. But it’s best to avoid complacency because the world is constantly changing. While you are enjoying a comfortable, easy relationship, there are probably new business challenges that you should be learning about from your customer. Or worse, you may open the door to a competitor because you weren’t bringing new and relevant ideas to your customer and he began to think of you more as a nice guy than a resource for advice and new ideas.Claire Sykes, “Relationship Selling,” Surface Fabrication 12, no. 1 (January–February 2006): 58.
Many companies use customer relationship management (CRM) tools, which are technology solutions that organize all of a customer’s interactions with a company in one place. In other words, CRM is a customer database that holds all the information regarding a transaction (e.g., date; products purchased; salesperson who sold the products; and name, address, and contact information of the customer). In addition, it captures all communication the customer has had with the company, including calls made to the company call center, posts and reviews made to the company Web site, and the details of each sales call made by a salesperson. Some CRM tools are extremely sophisticated and help the salesperson and the company to manage relationships with prospects and customers. Other CRM tools are simpler and are focused on helping the salesperson manage her relationship with prospects and customers.SearchCRM.com, “CRM (Customer Relationship Management),” http://searchcrm.techtarget.com/definition/CRM (accessed November 30, 2009).
A CRM tool works in a variety of ways. Here are a few examples. A construction contractor calls a toll-free number for a plumbing supply company after seeing an ad in a trade journal. The prospect inquiry is sent via e-mail to the appropriate salesperson. The salesperson reviews the CRM system to see if there have been any previous contacts with the customer and if there is any information about the customer and his business. Then he returns the prospect’s phone call and sets up a date to meet him to learn more about his business needs. The salesperson makes a note in the CRM system about the phone call and the date of the meeting and sets a follow-up reminder for himself for the meeting and for three days after the meeting. When the salesperson meets with the prospect, he learns that the prospect has five developments that he manages. The salesperson makes a note in the CRM system so everyone from the company who comes in contact with the prospect, such as other salespeople or customer service, know this information about the prospect.
CRM tools can be extremely helpful in managing customer relationships, especially where there are multiple people in the company who come in contact with prospects and customers. CRM tools also make it easier to understand the lifetime value of a customer since all purchases, inquiries, and other contacts are included in the system. It is the information that is gathered in a CRM system that helps a salesperson better understand customer behavior, communication patterns, and short- as well as long-term needs. For example, many companies offer loyalty programs as a tactic to increase sales but also to gather information about customer preferences to offer more relevant messages and offers. CRM tools are used to manage loyalty programs, such as Best Buy Rewards Zone, Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, and the Safeway card for their different local grocery chains. This information is then used for marketing and selling purposes. Best Buy can identify all the recent purchasers of Hewlett-Packard (HP) printers and send them an e-mail for HP ink cartridges. CRM tools are used to manage customer relationships in other ways. For example, Starbucks uses Salesforce.com, a widely used CRM tool, to power their MyStarbucksIdea Web site. The Web site is a collaboration and feedback tool that engages customers in providing ideas to the company. To manage the relationships with customers online, Starbucks uses a CRM tool. This allows Starbucks to provide personal feedback to each customer on all the ideas they submit. Visit MyStarbucksIdea.com to see this interactive suggestion box.
So you might think that customer relationships are easy to maintain with text messaging, e-mail, and other technology-based methods of communication. After all, that’s how you communicate with your friends. But while technology can enhance an established relationship because it allows you to provide information and insight at a moment’s notice, the fact is that most significant customer relationships, especially in B2B selling, require face-to-face communication.Susi Geiger and Darach Turley, “The Perceived Impact of Information Technology on Salespeople’s Relational Competencies,” Journal of Marketing Management 22, no. 7 (August 2006): 827.
In this world of high-tech instant communication, some relationships can easily become “low-touch,” or missing the human element. Meeting with and entertaining customers is an important part of the selling process. It helps you get to know customers in an environment outside the office, in a casual or social place such as a restaurant, sporting event, or concert. These can be excellent opportunities for you and your customer to “let your hair down,” relax, and enjoy each other’s company. Many sales positions include an entertainment budget for this reason. Taking someone out to eat is not the only part of a selling relationship, but it’s an important part of building and developing a connection. One sales manager said that he can tell when one of his salespeople is struggling simply by reviewing his expense reports. He looks for activities that take place outside business hours because those are the activities that build relationships. In fact, according to one study, 71 percent of top-achieving salespeople use entertainment as a way to get closer to their customers.Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29.
What makes golf a good way to build a business relationship? During eighteen holes of golf, the typical golfer actually hits the ball for only two and a half minutes during a four-plus hour round of golf.“How to Use Golf as a Business Tool,” video, BNET, http://www.bnet.com/2422-13722_23-323018.html (accessed July 27, 2009).
Speaker and author Suzanne Woo describes the secrets of using golf to build business relationships.
You’ve probably heard of e-commerce, selling products and services on the Internet, and m-commerce, selling products and services via mobile devices such as cell phones and smart phones. But you probably haven’t heard of r-commerce, a term that refers to relationship marketing, which establishes and builds mutually beneficial relationships.
Terry L. Brock, an international marketing coach and syndicated columnist, says salespeople have the opportunity to make the difference in their relationships with the little things. Sending a thank-you note after a meeting, forwarding an article or video on a topic you discussed, remembering the names of your customer’s children, even providing a personal suggestion for a vacation spot are all examples of little things that can set you apart from every other salesperson. You might think that these “little things” aren’t important when you get into the big world of business. But Harvey Mackay, renowned author, speaker, and business owner, says it best: “Little things mean a lot? Not true. Little things mean everything.”Terry L. Brock, “Relationship-Building Skills Pay Off for Your Bottom Line,” Philadelphia Business Journal, June 12–18, 2009, 25. Developing your own r-commerce strategy can help set you apart in sales. It’s expected that you will make phone calls and follow up; it’s the extra personal touch that makes your customer feel special and helps establish a strong relationship.
It’s the Little Things
Here’s an idea for a small activity that can turn into big opportunity along the way: every day take fifteen minutes at the beginning of the day to write three notes or e-mails—one to a customer, one to a prospect, and one to a friend just to say hi, follow up, or send an article of interest. At the end of the week, you will have made 15 contacts and 750 by the end of the year. What a great way to build relationships by doing the little things that make you stand out.Andrea Nierenberg, “Eight Ways to Say ‘Thank You’ to Customers,” Manage Smarter, February 6, 2009, http://www.crystal-d.com/eight-key-ways-to-say-thank-you-to-customers (accessed July 3, 2009).
“The check is in the mail.” “The doctor will see you in ten minutes.” “I’ll call you tomorrow.” How many times have you heard these promises, or ones like them? When people make promises that they don’t keep, you lose trust in them. It’s unlikely that you will trust a person who doesn’t deliver on what he or she says.
Trust is a critical element in every relationship. Think again about your best friend. Is she someone you can trust? If you tell her something in confidence, does she keep it to herself? If you need her for any reason, will she be there for you? Chances are, you answered “yes,” which is why she is your best friend. You believe that she will do what she says she will do, and probably more.
You can see why trust is so important in selling. If your customer doesn’t believe that you will actually do what you say you are going to do, you do not have a future in selling. Trust is built on open and honest communication. Trust is about building partnerships. Salespeople build trust by following up on their promises. They are accessible (many times 24/7), and they work to help their customers succeed. Customers trust you when they believe you have their best interest at heart, not your personal motivation. According to Tom Reilly, author of the book Value Added Selling, “Consultative selling is less about technique and more about trust.” Trust is what gives a relationship value. It is the cornerstone of selling. Trust creates value. In fact, one B2B customer described his salesperson by saying he was like an employee of the company. Another described her salesperson in terms of problem ownership by saying, “When we have a problem, he has a problem.”Tom Reilly, “Relationship Selling at Its Best,” Industrial Distribution 25, no. 9 (September 2006): 29. Trust is equally important in B2C selling. For example, at Zen Lifestyle, a salon in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, the approach to customers is described as soft sell with a focus on educating customers and providing information. Customers are encouraged to try products in the smallest size to determine whether they like the product. It is only after they have liked it that larger and more economical sizes are suggested. “This helps develop a relationship between customers and therapist built on trust, which in turn will generate future sales from recommendations,” according to salon owner Fiona Macarthur.Annette Hanford, “Best Sellers Tell All,” Health & Beauty Salon 25, no. 12 (December 2003): 50. In every business, these are all powerful testaments to great salespeople.
Power Player: Lessons in Selling from Successful Salespeople
Sign of Trust
Imagine not even bringing in product samples or literature with you on your first sales call with a customer. That’s what Susan Marcus Beohm, a sales manager for a handheld dental instrument manufacturer suggests. “I don’t go in as a salesperson—I go in looking to see how I can help them. Not bringing my goods and wares with me says, ‘I’m here to find out what you need,’ and it makes an impact.” When salespeople are too eager to start talking about features and benefits before they listen to the customer, they make it more difficult to establish trust.“A Foundation Built on Trust,” Selling Power Sales Management eNewsletter, August 8, 2001, http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=146 (accessed March 16, 2010).
People buy from people they trust. Consider the fact that customers put their trust in salespeople with their money and, in the case of business-to-business selling, with their business and ultimately their reputation. Customers actually become dependent on you, and their buying decisions are actually based on the fact that they trust you and believe what you say. Thus, the relationship can be even more important than the product.Brian Tracy, “Teaming Up with Your Customers,” Agency Sales 34, no. 2 (February 2004): 59. It is said that you can give a customer the option to buy a product from a salesperson she knows or buy the same product for 10 percent less from someone she doesn’t know, and in almost every case she will buy from the salesperson she knows.“Building Trust,” Selling Power Presentations Newsletter, February 25, 2002, http://www.sellingpower.com/content/newsletter/issue.php?pc=186 (accessed March 16, 2010).
Trust is such an important topic that sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer has written a book dedicated to the topic of gaining and giving trust titled Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Teal Book of Trust: How to Earn It, Grow It, and Keep It to Become a Trusted Advisor in Sales, Business, and Life. The following video provides the highlights.
Jeffrey Gitomer on Trust
Learn the two important questions that can give you insight on trust.
Source: Buy Gitomer, Inc.
Underpromise and Overdeliver
One of the tenets of selling is establishing trust and setting expectations. The best salespeople underpromise and overdeliver. In other words, they say they will do something by a certain day, and then not only do they do it, but they deliver it one day early. Here’s a way to think about the power of this approach: if you order a new pair of jeans online and the estimated date of delivery is Tuesday, but you receive them on Monday, you are delighted. You are pleased that they came early. However, if the jeans were promised for Tuesday delivery, but they arrived on Wednesday, you would be disappointed and probably would not trust that Web site for timely delivery in the future. You can imagine how this strategy builds trust with customers—not only can you rely on the salesperson to do what she said, but she never lets you down and even delivers earlier than promised sometimes. That’s how trust is built between salesperson and customer, and the relationship goes to the next level: partnership.
When Times Are Tough
No one likes to deliver bad news. But it’s not always good news that you will have to tell a customer. The best antidote for bad news is a good relationship. If you have nurtured your relationship with the customer and built trust, it is much easier to deliver bad news. When it’s time to deliver bad news, like a delayed delivery, a cost increase, or a discontinued product line, don’t put it off. Use the same practices that you use to build your relationships: open, honest, and timely communication.
As soon as you learn about information that may be bad news for your customer, contact her by phone to discuss the situation: “I realize we set Thursday as the installation date for phase one, but there have been some delays in development. Can we reschedule it for next Tuesday? I’m confident that everything will be complete by then. I apologize for any inconvenience. Let’s talk about any challenges this may cause on your end. I have some ideas about how we might work around them.” The sincerity in your voice and the dialogue you have with the customer can help avoid turning bad news into a serious problem. Because you have always made a point of underpromising and overdelivering, there is a high likelihood that your customer will respond positively to your ownership of the problem and solution-based conversation. It’s always best to include a realistic solution to the problem and, if you don’t have a solution, let the customer know exactly when you will get back to her with an update.
The Good News about Bad News
Here are tips for five ways to deliver bad news the right way.
Source: Sally Cordova, McKee Consulting, LLC
Win-Win-Win: The Ultimate Relationship
If you do volunteer work for an organization such as Autism Speaks, you get involved because you believe in raising awareness of autism to increase funds for research for the cure. Those who have autism and their families benefit from your involvement. This is win #1. You also benefit because you gain the satisfaction of helping people. This is win #2. You help build the strength of the organization, in this case, Autism Speaks. The more people that are involved, the more people they can reach with their message, and the more money they can raise to reach their goal of curing autism. This is win #3.
The above example is an illustration of the win-win-win concept in relationships. In other words, in the ultimate relationship, all parties have something to give and something to gain. This same win-win-win occurs in successful selling relationships. Your customer wins because he gets your advice and expertise to help him find a product or service that meets his needs. You win because you have enhanced your relationship and made a sale; and your company wins because the relationship, the sale, and the repeat sales help it achieve its goals.
Although the win-win-win may sound like a simple concept, it is a critical one to keep in mind in any business position, especially in selling. This art of collaboration actually results in more business with your existing customers because you have become a partner in solving their problems, and it brings you new business in the form of referrals. The win-win-win also plays a significant role in the negotiating process (covered in Chapter 12 “Closing the Sale: The Power of Negotiating to Win”). The best business relationships and negotiations are based on the win-win-win model, not the win-lose model in which one party loses so that the other can win.Stephen R. Covey, “Win-Win Strategies,” Training 45, no. 1 (January 2008): 56.
A Seat at the Table
The seat at the table is given to those salespeople who deliver value, not sell products or services. They develop the relationship to assist customers in implementing their business strategies.J. D. Williams, Robert Everett, and Elizabeth Rogol, “Will the Human Factors of Relationship Selling Survive in the Twenty-First Century?” International Journal of Commerce & Management 19, no. 2 (2009): 158.Customers want value in the form of strategic thinking around issues that are important to them and their company goals. As a result, your goal as a salesperson should be to help your customers create demand, secure a competitive advantage, and identify a new niche. When you deliver this kind of value, your customers will no longer see you as a salesperson; they will see you as a “business person who sells.” It’s this kind of thinking and value creation that earn you a seat at the table. The seat at the table also helps you expand your business because you will be integrated into your customer’s business. That allows you to deliver your core products or services and be a part of developing the new opportunities. It helps cement the relationship and establishes a partnership that delivers value for all involved.Marc Miller, “A Seat at the Table,” American Salesman 54, no. 5 (May 2009): 9.
Every salesperson wants “a seat at the table”; she wants to be a part of the decision-making process. That is the epitome of consultative selling: you are included in the process from the beginning. You want to be included as a valued partner with your business-to-business customers to discuss their company’s strategic questions like “How will we grow our business in the next three years while technology is driving down the average selling price of our product?” “How can we extend our relationship with our customers beyond our contract period?” or “How can we expand to new markets and minimize our risk?” These are not traditional sales questions; they are strategic issues that companies wrestle with. When you are a true partner with your customers, you will be given a seat at the table when direction-setting issues are discussed. This allows you to participate fully as a trusted advisor and asset to the customer and to help shape the strategy of the company. It changes your relationship with the contact and the company from salesperson to partner. Although it may seem like a lofty goal, consider this: If you want to have a seat at the table, not only will you need to solve your customer’s problems and anticipate her needs, but according to Tim Conner, sales trainer and author, you will also need to be a creative problem creator. That means that you will be in constant pursuit of identifying problems that your customer didn’t even know she had. In other words, it means that you have to think ahead of your customer, not just along with her.Tim Conner, “Sales Strategies of Six-Figure Salespeople,” TimConnor.com, http://www.timconnor.com/articles_sales.html (accessed June 29, 2009).
How Do You Bring Value?
This video features Jeffrey Gitomer discussing the value of providing value to customers.
Source: Buy Gitomer, Inc.
Networking: Relationships That Work for You
You probably use Facebook frequently to keep in touch with your friends. If you want to know who took a particular course with a particular professor, you can ask your friends on Facebook. If none of your friends took the course, one of their friends may have taken it and could give you some insight about the course and the professor. Whether you realize it or not, you are networking.
Networking is the art of building alliances or mutually beneficial relationships.“What Is Networking?” The Riley Guide, http://www.rileyguide.com/network.html#netprep (accessed July 3, 2009). In fact, networking is all about relationships and exchange. In the example above, while you are looking for feedback on a class from someone you know, someone else may be considering seeing a movie and wants to know if you’ve seen it and if you thought it was good. This is a value exchange. Although networking isn’t exactly quid pro quo (something for something), it does include the element of exchange: if someone is looking for something, someone else can provide the information. What makes the network function is the fact that people in the network at some point have a need and at some point may be able to help someone else with his need. Said another way, networking is based on mutual generosity.Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11, 2007, http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_Tips_for_Shy_People?page=1(accessed July 3, 2009).
Networking is an important part of the business world and an even more vital part of sales. It’s no longer a question of “if” you should network; it’s a requirement to stay competitive because it’s virtually impossible to do your job alone. Just as in social networking, professional networking allows you to leverage the people you know to expand your relationship to people you don’t know. Building strong relationships with customers is an excellent way to build your network. Satisfied customers will refer you to other people who might become potential customers.
It’s best to always be networking rather than networking only when you want something. It makes it easier to network and expand your relationships when you’re not asking for something. It also gives you the opportunity to help someone else first, which can go a long way when you need help in the future.
Networking Tips of the Trade
Today, networking can be done in person as well as online. Don’t limit yourself to just one method. Networking is best done both in person and online to be truly effective. Here are a few tips for networking in person.
Start with People You Know
Make a list of all the people you know, starting with your current customers, family, friends, friends’ family, and others. Include people such as your hair stylist, car mechanic, and others. Get to know everyone in your extended network as each can be a lead for a potential sale or even a job.Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11, 2007, http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_Tips_for_Shy_People?page=1 (accessed July 3, 2009).
Join and Get Involved in Professional Organizations
If you want to meet people who are in the same business or profession as you, professional organizations such as Sales & Marketing Executives International, Advertising Club of New York, Home Builder’s Association, and so on are the best places to be. Joining is good, but getting involved in one of the committees is even better. It helps demonstrate your skills and knowledge to the other people in the organization. Since most professional organizations are made up of volunteers, it’s usually easy to be invited to participate on a committee.Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 176.
Attend Industry Events
Make an effort to attend industry or other professional events. Arrive early and work the room. If you come with someone, be sure to branch out to meet and mingle with other people. Set a time and a place to meet the person with whom you came so you can both maximize your networking. According to Peter Handel, the chairman and CEO of Dale Carnegie & Associates, a smile can be your greatest asset when networking in person. He suggests always asking questions of the people you meet; it helps keep conversation going and gives you more insight into their background and how you might work together in the future. But the other side of asking questions is listening; that’s how you will learn. And always have your business cards handy. Give out your business card to those you talk to, and don’t forget to get their business cards, too.Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11, 2007, http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_Tips_for_Shy_People?page=1 (accessed July 3, 2009).
Keep in Touch
Many people think that networking is just about collecting business cards. Networking is so much more than that. Networking is about creating mutually beneficial relationships. It’s best to use one of the basic practices for building relationships when networking: keeping in touch. That means dropping an e-mail to someone with whom you have networked just to find out how their big project is going, how their twins’ birthday celebration went, or even just to say hi. Go beyond the e-mail by inviting someone to lunch. It’s the perfect way to build a relationship, share common ground, and learn more about the person.Donna Rosato, “Networking for People Who Hate to Network,” CNNMoney.com, April 3, 2009, http://money.cnn.com/2009/04/02/news/economy/networking_jobs.moneymag/index.htm(accessed July 3, 2009). Many people are gung ho about networking and meeting people, but rarely keep in touch. It almost defeats the purpose of networking if you don’t keep in touch.
Online Professional Social Networking
Online professional social networking can be an equally powerful tool to build your contacts. But just like networking in person, you can’t be passive and expect to expand your network. Consider a situation that Austin Hill, Internet entrepreneur and founder of the angel investment firm Brudder Ventures, encountered when his firm was trying to get access to someone in a specific department at a vendor. It was a large company, and he kept getting the runaround. But after going onto LinkedIn and getting introductions to the right people, within two days they were able to start doing business with the company.Lisa LaMotta, “How to Network Like a Pro Online,” Forbes, August 9, 2007, http://www.forbes.com/2007/08/09/google-microsoft-walmart-ent-tech-cx_ll_0809networking.html (accessed July 3, 2009).
Create a Profile on the Major Professional Social Networks
LinkedIn, Ryze, ZoomInfo, and Plaxo are all online professional social networks that have a substantial number of members. You can also use Facebook MySpace, and Twitter to create profiles, peruse job boards, and join the conversation.
Join The Power of Selling Group on LinkedIn
You can join the conversation about careers in sales created for this course on LinkedIn. Visit http://www.linkedin.com and go to http://www.linkedin.com/groups?gid=2566050&trk=myg_ugrp_ovr. Or go to “Search Groups,” search for “The Power of Selling,” select it from the groups that are displayed, and click on “Join Group.” Once you’ve joined the group, you can connect with sales professionals and other students across the country. You will be able to listen to the conversation, ask questions, and start or join discussions. This group is an excellent way to network and find people who work at companies that you may want to work at.
Start your professional networking now and network with sales professionals that want to help you.
The Power of Selling Group
Connect to People You Know, Then Network Personally
The number of connections you have is not a badge of honor. Take the time to connect to all the people you know, and network within their networks. If you only add people for the sake of having a lot of connections, you won’t know who can really help you in your network. When you do make a connection, make it personal; don’t just send a group invitation to join your network. It’s always best to keep in mind that the foundation of your network is relationships.Clare Dight, “How to Network Online,” Times Online, February 21, 2008, http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/career_and_jobs/graduate_management/article3402745.ece (accessed July 3, 2009).
How to use Twitter and Twitter-related Web sties to network before and after a professional conference.
Source: Mig Pascual
Ask for introductions to people with whom you want to network and ask your boss, colleagues, and customers to write recommendations for you. It’s a good idea to use the features included on the professional social networking sites such as groups, discussions, and “Answers” on LinkedIn, which allows you to ask questions of your network.Lisa LaMotta, “How to Network Like a Pro Online,” Forbes, August 9, 2007, http://www.forbes.com/2007/08/09/google-microsoft-walmart-ent-tech-cx_ll_0809networking.html (accessed July 3, 2009).
Mind Your Manners
Just a word of caution about professional social networking: Be professional in all of your communications. You are participating in a professional forum so be aware that everything you “say” and do reflects on you and your company.
- Consultative selling is the process by which you get to know a customer personally, understand her needs, and put her needs first in the relationship.
- Relationships are vital to success in most selling situations. When you understand what the customer wants and needs, you can provide solutions to help your customer meet his goals.
- Lifetime value is a term that refers to the amount of business that you do with a single customer over the course of the relationship. When you have a long-term view of your relationships with customers, you have an opportunity to realize even greater success.
- R-commerce, or establishing and developing relationships with customers, focuses on the “little things” you can do to take advantage of opportunities and set yourself apart.
- Trust is the cornerstone of every relationship. If you don’t have trust, you don’t have a relationship.
- A solid relationship is essential, especially when delivering bad news. Always be honest and timely with customers when you have to communicate news that might not be what they want to hear. They will respect you and trust you for it.
- The win-win-win is when all parties in a relationship win: your customer, you, and your company or organization.
- Networking, the art of building mutually beneficial relationships, is an indispensable business tool.
- Identify a situation in which a salesperson has developed a relationship with you. Do you trust her more since you know her better? Identify at least one way she puts your needs first in the relationship.
- Name a situation in which a salesperson provided you with information to make your purchasing decision. Did you trust him to provide this information? Why did you trust him?
- Think about a situation in which a salesperson underpromised and overdelivered. How did your perception of the salesperson and the company change because of your experience?
- Go to http://www.linkedin.com and create your profile. Then use the search box to search groups and search for “The Power of Selling.” Click on the “Members” tab and search for members that you want to connect with and add them to your professional network. Click on the “Discussions” tab to begin or join into a discussion.
- Research professional organizations that might be of interest to you that have a chapter on campus or in your local community. What is the mission of each organization? What events are scheduled soon? How can you become a student member of the organization?
3.2 Putting Adaptive Selling to Work
- Explain the concept of adaptive selling and how to use it.
- Understand how the social style matrix can help you be more effective in sales.
Adaptive selling occurs when a salesperson adapts, changes, and customizes her selling style based on the situation and the behavior of the customer.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 151.Adaptive selling allows you to truly listen, understand the customer’s needs, and then adapt your conversation and presentation accordingly. On the other hand, if you were giving a canned presentation, you wouldn’t be able to learn what the customer thinks is important. For example, if you were selling landscaping to a customer, you wouldn’t know if the customer wanted the landscaping to provide privacy or create a view. The only way you would find out is by listening, asking questions, and adapting your recommendations and presentation accordingly. Adaptive selling is much easier to do when you establish a relationship with the customer.
Adaptive selling takes place in many situations in business and in life. It is the selling skill that allows you to adapt your communications to a person or situation. Chances are you already use adaptive selling in your everyday life, but you may not realize it. Do you approach your parents differently than your friends? Do you speak to a professor differently than you do to your roommate? These are examples of adaptive selling.
It’s also likely that you interact with each of your friends differently. Do you have a friend that needs tons of information to make a decision, while another friend makes a decision in an instant? Do you know people who want to talk about their decisions before and after they make them and those who just decide and don’t say a word? Understanding diversity, or the different ways people behave, is the cornerstone of adaptive selling.
The Social Style Matrix
What makes people so different in their style, perceptions, and approaches to things is defined in the social style matrix. It is an established method that helps you understand how people behave so you can adapt your selling style accordingly. The social style matrix is based on patterns of communication behavior identified by David Merril and Roger Reid.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 155. It plots social behavior based on two dimensions: assertiveness and responsiveness. In the matrix below, the x axis is assertiveness, which indicates the degree to which a person wants to dominate or control the thoughts of others. The y axis represents responsiveness, which is the degree to which a person outwardly displays emotions or feelings in a relationship.Rick English, “Finding Your Selling Style,” San Diego State University, Marketing 377 class notes, chapter 5, http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~renglish/377/notes/chapt05 (accessed July 7, 2009). In Figure 3.4 “Social Style Matrix”, you can see the four quadrants; each quadrant represents one of four social styles: analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Each of these styles describes a different type of behavior.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 151.
Figure 3.4 Social Style MatrixTodd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.
Each of the social styles has specific characteristics that are important to keep in mind as you prepare and present your sales presentation. Adapting to someone’s social style demonstrates the law of psychological reciprocity, which says that when you adapt to someone’s style, that person will move toward your style. In short, you are inspiring trust by acting according to the old adage of the golden rule.Ron Zemke, “Trust Inspires Trust,” Training 10, January 1, 2002. So, whether you are asking to borrow your mother’s car or asking someone on a date, understanding the social style matrix is important to get the result you want.
Analyticals: They Want to Know “How”
Do you know someone who only wants the facts to make a decision? Perhaps it’s your father or mother or a professor. Analyticals are all about the facts. They are defined by low responsiveness and low assertiveness. In other words, they like to hear about the pros and cons and all the details before they decide. They are likely to have a financial or technical background, and they pride themselves on being an expert in their field. They want to hear about the tangible results, timelines, and details before they make a decision. In fact, they are the ones who will actually read the directions before they put together a new grill or set up a wireless home network. They are so focused on facts that they prefer to disregard personal opinions in their decision making. They like to understand all the facts before they decide so they know exactly how the product, service, or contract arrangement will work.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 158.
You might have some visual cues that will help you identify an analytical. She probably dresses conservatively and has her achievement awards proudly displayed on her office wall. She is organized and focused on work activities.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.
If you are selling to a customer who is an analytical, she will ask you very specific questions about all the details, and she will respond positively if you make her feel as if she is right. In other words, don’t challenge her facts and point of view. Rather, provide history, data, financial details, and other facts in an organized, structured format. She will ask many questions so that she clearly understands the product or service. Since it’s important for her to make the right decision, she will take the time to gather all the facts. Because she puts so much effort into making the right decision, she tends to be loyal to the people from whom she buys, believing she doesn’t need to reevaluate the same facts.
Adapt your style to an analytical by focusing on the “how.” Slow down your presentation and let her take it all in; don’t make her feel rushed. Use facts, historical data, and details to be sure she has all the information she needs to make the decision. Use guarantees or warranties to reduce any perceived risk. Give her the time she needs to analyze, evaluate, and decide.Sandra Bearden, “The Psychology of Sales: Savvy Selling Means Tailoring to Type,” UAB Magazine 20, no. 2 (Fall 2000), http://main.uab.edu/show.asp?durki=41089 (accessed February 13, 2010).
Drivers: They Want to Know “What”
You’ve probably watched Super Bowl champion Peyton Manning, quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts play football on television or the Internet. One of the traits that makes him a champion is the fact that he is focused exclusively on winning each game. When he is on the field, everything else is in second place in his mind. Peyton Manning is a driver.
Drivers have some characteristics that are the same as analyticals in that they like to have all the facts to make their decision. However, drivers are different from analyticals because they make decisions quickly. On the social style matrix, they are in the low responsiveness, high assertiveness quadrant. These are the people who are “control freaks”; they are decisive and controlling. They work with people because they have to; they see other people only as a means to their end of achievement. They are smart, focused, independent, and competitive. They have little regard for the opinions of others; a driver is rarely described as a “people person.” They are high achievers who are in a hurry to meet their goals.Rick English, “Finding Your Selling Style,” San Diego State University, Marketing 377 class notes, chapter 5, http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~renglish/377/notes/chapt05 (accessed July 7, 2009).They don’t want facts just for the sake of having them; they want relevant information that will help them decide quickly.
Like the analyticals, drivers dress conservatively and display their achievement awards on the wall of their office. A calendar is usually prominent to keep focus on how long it will take to achieve something. Because they are not focused on the feelings or attitudes of other people, drivers usually do business across the desk rather than on the same side of the desk.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 158.
The best way to adapt to a driver is to be professional and to the point. Don’t spend too much time on small talk; get to the point quickly. Provide options so that he can feel as if he is in control. Include a timeline so he can see how quickly he can get results.
Amiables: They Want to Know “Why”
Actress Reese Witherspoon was recently named the Honorary Chairperson of the Avon Foundation for Women because of her ability to unite women around the cause of breast cancer.Avon Foundation for Women, “Reese Witherspoon Joins Avon Foundation for Women and San Francisco General Hospital to Celebrate 5th Anniversary of Avon Comprehensive Breast Center,” press release, May 11, 2009, http://www.avoncompany.com/women/news/press20090511.html (accessed July 8, 2009).She rallies people and brings them together by focusing on the greater good, but she doesn’t assert herself. She is an amiable.
An amiable is most likely to be described as a “people person.” Amiables are team players who focus on innovation and long-term problem solving. They value relationships and like to engage with people whom they feel they can trust. They are less controlling than drivers and more people oriented than analyticals because they are in the low assertiveness, high responsiveness quadrant of the matrix.
Amiables provide some visual clues because their offices are typically open and friendly. They often display pictures of family, and they prefer to work in an open environment rather than sitting across the desk from you. They tend to have a personal style in their dress, being casual or less conservative than analytics or drivers.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.
When you are presenting to an amiable, establish a personal relationship. She will be more likely to discuss issues with you. When you demonstrate your personal commitment, she will be open to doing business with you.
Expressives: They Want to Know “Who”
An expressive is intuitive, charismatic, persuasive, nurturing, and engaging. Oprah Winfrey is an expressive; she has excellent rapport with people, even people she has never met. Relationships are important to her, but only to help her achieve her higher goal of giving her viewers inspiration and a better way to live their lives.
Expressives are creative and can see the big picture clearly; they have a vision and use their style to communicate it and inspire people. They don’t get caught up in the day-to-day details. Expressives build relationships to gain power, so people like employees, viewers, or voters are very important to them. Status and recognition are also important to them.
Since expressives are not big on details, you might find their offices to be a bit disorganized, even cluttered and messy. Their offices are set up in an open format, as they would prefer to sit next to you rather than across the desk from you. They avoid conservative dress and are more casual with their personal style. They want to engage with you and talk about the next big idea.Barton A. Weitz, Stephen B. Castleberry, and John F. Tanner, Jr., Selling: Building Partnerships, 7th ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2009), 159.
When you are selling to an expressive, take extra time to discuss everything. Give them recognition and approval. Appeal to their emotions by asking them how they feel about the product or service; focus on the big picture of what is possible as a result of buying your product or service. If you try to dazzle them with facts and figures, you won’t get very far.
Table 3.1 Selling Style Summary
|Social Style You’re Selling to||How to Adapt|
Source: Todd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.
What Is Your Selling Style?
Before you think about the social styles of other people, you might find it helpful to think about your own social style. Are you very emotional when you express your opinions, or are you more reserved and formal? Are you the type of person who agrees with everyone, or are you extremely interested in the details? You might want to take a few minutes to take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter to understand your social style. But don’t stop here; visit your campus career center as it most likely offers several assessment tools that can help you identify your social style.
Take the Keirsey Temperament Sorter to Determine Your Social Style
It would be easy to get stuck in your own style preference. But getting out of your comfort zone and adapting quickly to your customer’s style preference can make the difference between a sale and a “no thanks.” It’s important to note that most people are a combination of styles, but when you understand the basic behaviors of each style and how to adapt, you can increase your chances for success.Todd Duncan, “Your Sales Style,” Incentive, December 1, 1999, 64–66.
- Adaptive selling occurs when you adapt and customize your selling style based on the behavior of the customer.
- The social style matrix is based on patterns of communication that characterize communication behavior based on two dimensions: assertiveness and responsiveness.
- Analyticals focus on facts, details, and analysis to decide but are reserved in their interactions with people. They want to know the “how.”
- Drivers are similar to analyticals in that they like facts, but only the ones that will quickly help them achieve their goals. They are people who are in a hurry and don’t really care about personal relationships, except as a means to their goal. They want to know the “what.”
- Amiables focus on personal relationships in their communication style. They like to agree with everyone and focus on team building. They want to know the “why.”
- Expressives enjoy building relationships, but don’t like focusing on day-to-day details; they like to paint a vision and inspire everyone to follow it. They like to focus on the “who.”
- Most people use a combination of styles, depending on the situation.
- Think about your professor for this course. What social style would you use if you went to see her about your grade on the midterm exam? Discuss why you would choose this style.
- Using the social matrix in this section, identify a situation in which you would use each style. Discuss why you would choose the style for each situation.
For each of the following situations, identify the social style of the buyer and suggest how you would adapt to appeal to the buyer:
- You are a salesperson for a floral wholesaler. Your customer owns a flower shop. When you arrive to meet her you notice her office is a bit messy (in fact, you can’t understand how she finds anything), but she is very cordial and takes the time to hear about your product.
- You are a salesperson for a company that specializes in social networking software for retailers. Your customer is the chief information officer for a growing online retailer. He was very precise about the meeting time and agenda. You hope you can establish rapport with him quickly as he was a bit brusque on the phone.
- You are a commercial real estate agent. Your customer is the founder and CEO of a start-up Web site development company. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she describes her vision for the company and her office needs for the next five years.
3.3 Selling U: Networking—The Hidden Job Market
- Understand the role of relationships and networking in your job search.
Did you know that 80 percent of jobs are filled through networking?Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 171. Networking is sometimes referred to as the “hidden job market” because many jobs are filled before they are ever posted. This is true now more than ever because of the challenging economy. Traffic at job boards like Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, and Yahoo! HotJobs is up 37 percent over last year, which means that companies are deluged with résumés. Despite the influx in résumés, companies are using more networking—traditional and online—to fill their open jobs. In fact, about 50 percent of Facebook’s new hires come from referrals from existing employees. According to Molly Graham, manager of Facebook Human Resources and Recruitment, “One of our main philosophies is to get smart and talented people. They tend to be connected.”
Zappos, a billion-dollar online retailer of shoes and apparel that was recently purchased by Amazon, has taken employee referrals to the next level and has implemented software that lets employees use their LinkedIn and Twitter contacts. The software uses an algorithm to identify people who might have a skill set and experience match for open positions and then allows employees to invite the prospective candidate to apply.Joseph De Avila, “Beyond Job Boards,” Wall Street Journal, July 2, 2009, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203872404574260032327828514.html(accessed July 3, 2009).
So now you can see why networking can be a very effective method to potentially learn about or land the job you want. But you might be wondering where you start and exactly how you network effectively. Like everything else in selling, you need to develop a plan.
Create a Networking Plan
Before you start, it’s a good idea to review exactly what networking is and what it isn’t. Just as in selling, networking is about building relationships that are mutually beneficial; it is about the exchange of value between people, usually over the course of time. Someone might help you now, and you might help that same person or someone else later. It requires a relationship and ongoing commitment. Networking isn’t a quick, easy way to get a job. Although it can be instrumental in helping you get a job, it isn’t easy, and it might not be quick. You should approach networking for the long term and realize that you will help some people and some people will help you. You have the power to help other people and to ask for help; that’s how networking works. To help guide you, here are six power networking tips.
Power Networking Tip #1: Network with Confidence
Don’t think of networking as begging for a job. Start building relationships with people—family, friends, professors, and executives—now. That will give you the opportunity to build relationships and potentially help someone even before you begin your job search. When you do begin networking to find a job, be yourself and get to know as many people as possible using the methods described earlier in the chapter (e.g., professional organizations, events). Keep in mind that you may have the opportunity one day to help the person with whom you are networking, so network with confidence.Meredith Levinson, “How to Network: 12 Tips for Shy People,” CIO, December 11, 2007, http://www.cio.com/article/164300/How_to_Network_Tips_for_Shy_People?page=1 (accessed July 3, 2009). You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you because you ask. The fact is people want to help you; they want to see you succeed.
Power Networking Tip #2: Join Professional Organizations
There’s no better place to meet people you want to work with than to go where they go. Professional organizations such as your local chapter of Sales & Marketing Executives International, American Marketing Association, Entrepreneurs Organization, Public Relations Society of America, and others provide the perfect environment to meet people in the industry in which you want to work. Start by exploring the professional organizations on campus. Many are local chapters of national organizations designed to encourage students to get involved. If you don’t know which organization is best for you, ask a professor; she will be happy to provide some insight. Or go to a meeting and check it out; most organizations allow nonmembers to attend at least one meeting or event at no charge. A good number of professional organizations offer student membership rates that are designed for student budgets. Besides providing an excellent method to network, being a member of a professional organization also enhances your résumé.
But don’t just join—get involved. You can impress people with your skills, drive, and work ethic by getting involved in a committee, planning an event, working on the organization’s Web site, or other project. It’s a great way to build your experience and your résumé and impress prospective employers. At the same time, you can be developing professional references to speak on your behalf.
Power Networking Tip #3: Create Your Networking List
Networking, like selling, is personal. So make a list of all the people you know with whom you can network. Don’t disqualify anyone because you think they can’t help. You never know who knows someone who might be the link to your next job. Follow the same strategy for your personal networking as you would use for networking for selling: write down the four Fs—friends, family, friends’ family, and family’s friends using a format like the example shown in Table 3.2 “Sample Networking List”.Howcast, “How to Network,” video, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9VUqB7wQpY (accessed July 27, 2009). But don’t stop there; include your manicurist, insurance agent, hairstylist, and anyone else with whom you have a relationship. Don’t forget to visit your school alumni office. It’s always easier to start networking with people with whom you already have a relationship.
Table 3.2 Sample Networking List
|Name||Relationship||Phone||Date of Contact||Follow-Up Date|
|Manny Romeo||Dad’s friend at Crane, Inc.||firstname.lastname@example.org||616-787-9121||March 4||Need to touch base again at end of the month|
|Marie Jennings||Mom’s email@example.com||616-231-0098||March 6||Early April (April 6)|
|Jamal Isper||Dad’s friend at Polk & Polkfirstname.lastname@example.org||791-887-9091||March 10||March 17|
|Shalee Johnson||Hairstylist||Not available; will talk to her on my next appointment||616-765-0120||April 7||To be determined based on first contact|
|Rajesh Sumar||Director of Alumni Relations at school||Rajesh.email@example.com||891-222-5555 ext. 2187||March 12||To be determined based on first contact|
|Annette Roberts||General Sales Manager, Castle Controls||Annette.firstname.lastname@example.org||888-989-0000 ext. 908||March 12||To be determined based on first contact|
Networking Made Easy
This video gives you the highlights of how to network.
Source: Howcast Media, Inc.
Power Networking Tip #4: Know What to Say
Everyone tells you to do networking, but after you create your list, what do you say? You will be delivering your brand message to everyone with whom you are networking, so be specific about what you are looking for. Always take the opportunity to expand your network by asking for the names of other people whom you might contact. For example, assume you are networking with Vera, a friend of the family:
|You:||I really enjoy marketing and advertising. In fact, I’m looking for an internship at an advertising agency in account management. Do you know of anyone who might be looking for an intern for the summer?|
|Vera:||I don’t really know anyone at an advertising agency.|
|You:||Thanks. I was wondering if you might know anyone who might know someone who works at an advertising agency.|
You will be surprised at how many people may be able to give you the name of someone you can contact. Not everyone will give you a name, but if you don’t ask, most people won’t think about whom they might know.
You might also network with someone who gives you the name of someone to contact. For example,
|You:||I’m going to graduate from State College in May with a degree in business administration. I really enjoy the idea of helping people increase their company’s sales, so I’m looking for a job in selling. Do you know of anyone who might have an opportunity in sales?|
|Jon:||Have you talked to anyone at Universal Parts? They have a great training program, and the sales reps get a company car. You might want to touch base with Chris Reddy, who is one of the sales managers. I can give you his contact information.|
|You:||Jon, I really appreciate your help. Can I mention your name when I contact him?|
|Jon:||Sure. Chris is a great leader and is always looking for good people.|
When you contact Chris Reddy, it’s best to make contact by phone, if possible. That way you have an opportunity to create a relationship (remember how important relationships are in selling, especially when you are selling yourself). A phone call might start like this:
|You:||Hello, Chris. My name is Rakeem Bateman. Jon Keller suggested I give you a call.|
|Chris:||Hello Rakeem. Jon and I have known each other for several years. How do you know Jon?|
|You:||I met him at a Sales & Marketing Executives International event last week. He was one of the speakers. I enjoyed hearing what he had to say so much that I stayed to talk to him after the event. I’m going to graduate from State College in May with a degree in business administration. I really enjoy the idea of helping people increase their company’s sales, so I’m looking for a job in selling. Jon suggested that I touch base with you to find out if Universal Parts might be looking to expand their sales organization.|
If someone has referred you, always include that as part of your introduction. If your networking takes place via e-mail, you should do the same thing. When you send your résumé to someone with whom you are networking via e-mail, it’s best to include your three bullet points from your cover letter as the body of the e-mail (review the Selling U section in Chapter 2 “The Power to Choose Your Path: Careers in Sales”). That allows the person to whom you are sending the letter to see at a glance that he wants to open your résumé. In most cases the person to whom you are sending your résumé is forwarding it to someone else. Writing a short, easy-to-skim note helps tell every recipient what you have to offer. For example, see Figure 3.5 “Sample E-mail for Networking” for a sample e-mail to Chris Reddy.
Figure 3.5 Sample E-mail for Networking
You can see that when you are networking you want to focus on being specific about what you are looking for, asking for names of people with whom you might network, and creating a relationship with those people.
Power Networking Tip #5: Online Professional Social Networking
Social networking sites can be a more powerful job search tool than most people realize, and their power can go both ways: The sites can work in your favor, but they can also work against you. When you’re preparing to apply for jobs, keep in mind that a growing number of employers search social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace to weed out applicants who might not fit with their company culture. In fact, 22 percent of employers claim to use social networking sites when considering potential hires, and of those employers, 34 percent said they chose not to hire a candidate based on the information they had dug up about that person online.Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,” CNN.com, November 5, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/11/05/cb.social.networking/index.html (accessed May 16, 2010). One human resources manager based in Seattle, says she has turned down an otherwise promising job candidate’s application on a number of occasions after visiting the applicant’s networking profile. “Sometimes there are compromising photos or videos posted out there where anyone can find them,” she says. “When that happens, those applications go right in the trash.”Elizabeth Lee, personal communication, June 26, 2009. You can find out all kinds of things about a person from his MySpace profile that you couldn’t necessarily learn from his cover letter or résumé! As social networking expert Patrice-Anne Rutledge says, before you go on the job market, make sure you “get rid of your digital dirt.” In particular, look through any videos or photographs you may have uploaded to your profile, any Web sites you may have linked to, and any personal information you reveal that may be controversial or reflect on you in a negative light.Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,” CNN.com, November 5, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/11/05/cb.social.networking/index.html (accessed June 25, 2009).
You’ve Got the Power: Tips for Your Job Search
Clean Up Your Pages
“Get rid of your digital dirt”Mike Hargis, “Social Networking Sites Dos and Don’ts,” CNN.com, November 5, 2008, http://www.cnn.com/2008/LIVING/worklife/11/05/cb.social.networking/index.html (accessed June 25, 2009). now, before you even start applying for jobs. Your Facebook or MySpace profile could negatively impact your chances of getting a job at your chosen company. Gauge the appropriateness of the videos, photographs, and comments on your pages and decide whether it would be a problem if a potential employer saw them. Many employers will search your social networking profiles to learn the things your résumé and cover letter don’t reveal.
On the other hand, professional social networking sites are tools you can leverage to great advantage in your job search if you use them proactively. LinkedIn is the biggest and most frequently used networking site, but there are a number of others, including Jobster, Ryze, ZoomInfo, and Plaxo, that allow you to create a professional profile and find contacts in your target industry or at target companies.Kim Richmond, Brand You, 3rd ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008), 134. Although it’s easy to create an account on these sites, you won’t get the full benefit unless you do two things: make the effort to keep your profile up-to-date and make the effort to grow your network. Here are a few social networking tips to keep in mind:
- Make yourself stand out. Think about the skills and qualities that make you unique. What sets you apart as your own distinctive brand? Your online networking profile should reflect this. Don’t just reproduce your résumé; make your profile into your “elevator speech,” highlighting your interests and using power words to describe your experience and talents. Your network profile is searchable on Google, so give some thought to the keywords you use to describe yourself.Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois, “Six Steps to Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn,” Magic Marketing USA, January 7, 2009, http://magicmarketingusa.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/linkedin (accessed May 16, 2010).
- Publicize your profile. LinkedIn allows you to search your e-mail address book for contacts that also have accounts, so you can easily grow your network. You should also be willing to ask people you know in your industry, including professors and mentors, to join your network. These people are well connected and want to see you succeed. In addition, you can start using your LinkedIn profile badge on outgoing e-mails, and, if you have one, on your Web site. When you publicize yourself this way, people will start linking to you.Diana Dietzschold Bourgeois, “Six Steps to Harnessing the Power of LinkedIn,” Magic Marketing USA, January 7, 2009, http://magicmarketingusa.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/linkedin (accessed May 16, 2010). Many companies and recruiters are accelerating their use of LinkedIn. “We could not believe the candidates we got” from LinkedIn, says Scott Morrison, director of global recruiting programs at software giant Salesforce.com.Matthew Boyle, “Enough to Make a Monster Tremble,” BusinessWeek, June 25, 2009, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_27/b4138043180664.htm (accessed June 25, 2009).
- Ask for recommendations. As you begin to build a professional network online, you can use it the same way you would use a regular social network. Ask people for recommendations of your work and for referrals to new contacts. Maybe a former professor knows the marketing manager at a company where you want to work; ask her to introduce you. Making a request like this can be terrifying at first, but have confidence. Keep in mind that your professors, mentors, and fellow professionals want to help you, and when they can help you, they will. But you won’t get the help if you don’t ask for it.
- Join groups. Start by joining The Power of Selling group on LinkedIn. Sites like LinkedIn have thousands of groups that are specific to interest, location, hobbies, and industry. Join your local professional group—the Chicago Sales and Marketing Executives group, for instance—and join your school’s alumni association. Your alumni group is an extremely important connection to make because people are almost always eager to help their fellow alumni succeed. But don’t stop there; search for other groups that are in the industry you want to pursue. You can just listen to the conversation and then jump in when you feel comfortable.
- Create content. Think about when you are considering making a major purchase. What do you do? You probably conduct research online to determine the pros and cons of each alternative. Employers do the same thing, so be sure your profile is compelling and up-to-date. In addition, use your social networking pages to create content to demonstrate your skills. For example, write a blog and link it to your Facebook page or post tweets on Twitter about a project on which you are working, a topic about which you are passionate, or even your job search. Get people to follow you and engage in the dialogue. Direct them to your personal Web site, samples of your work, or the content you have created. Social networking gives you the opportunity to show and sell with content that you create.
- Search the social networking job boards. More and more employers are using professional social networking sites to post jobs and seek out prospective employees.Matthew Boyle, “Enough to Make a Monster Tremble,” BusinessWeek, June 25, 2009, http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/09_27/b4138043180664.htm (accessed June 25, 2009). It’s worth your time to review the job postings using the appropriate keywords.
Learn How to Use LinkedIn
This short video series provides step-by-step instructions as to how to use LinkedIn for networking.
Power Networking Tip #6: Follow-Up
It might seem like networking doesn’t always work. It’s good to keep in mind that networking is all about exchange of value. Sometimes, you may not find people who want the value you have to offer at the time you are offering it. Don’t be discouraged. Follow-up is important in every part of your job search, so follow up with everyone with whom you network. Sometimes, people are simply distracted or overwhelmed at the time you first contacted them. Or sometimes their situation has changed, even in just a few days; you won’t know this unless you follow up.
It’s best to follow up by phone within one week of a contact. It may seem easier to follow up by e-mail, but you increase your likelihood of being successful and building a relationship when you follow up by phone. Don’t simply leave a voice mail message as it is unlikely that someone will return your call. Continue to call until your contact answers the phone, or leave a voice mail and tell her when you will call back along with your e-mail address. Then, call back when you say you will. You will be pleasantly surprised at the results.
Keep in mind that networking is an ongoing process, whether you are looking for a job or not. When you establish a relationship with someone, keep in touch with her. You should touch base with people in your network at least once every four to six weeks. It’s good to call to catch up, but an e-mail can be just as powerful. Send a link to an article or video that you think she will like. It’s a perfect reason for keeping in touch and helps establish you as someone who delivers value, even when you are not looking for something.
- Creating a networking plan will help make your networking efforts more effective.
- Networking is about exchanging value, not collecting business cards. It’s best to begin networking even before you are looking for a job so you can get to know people and provide value to them; it will help you when you begin your job search.
- Always network with confidence. You are not asking for a favor—you are simply tapping into a reciprocal business practice.
- It’s a good idea to create a networking list including friends, family, family’s friends, friends’ family, and everyone else you know. Write down their names and contact information so you don’t miss anyone.
- Practice what you want to say when you network with people. It’s best to be specific about what you are looking for and always ask for another person with whom you can network.
- Online professional social networks such as LinkedIn, Plaxo, and other networking sites including Facebook and Twitter can help you expand your network and build relationships with many people who might be able to help put you in touch with the right people.
- Your social networking pages represent your personal brand. Be sure that all words, pictures, and videos are appropriate for prospective employers to view.
- Follow-up is the key to making networking work; don’t assume that because you haven’t heard back from someone that he doesn’t want to talk to you. Take the time to follow up within one week of every contact.
- Choose one of your classmates. Review his social networking pages and do a search on major search engines to see what his personal brand communicates online. Is it appropriate for a prospective employer? What changes would you recommend?
- Create your networking list. Identify at least fifteen people that you can contact about your internship or job search. How can you expand your network to include twenty-five people?
- Assume you were at a campus networking event and met someone who works at a company where you would like to work. What would you say to her to try to learn about potential opportunities with the company? If she said nothing was available, what would you say to be able to contact her at a later time?
- Review your LinkedIn profile and identify ways that you can stand out. Ask a professor or other professional to give you some feedback on your profile and other professionals you can add to your network.
3.4 Review and Practice
Now that you have read this chapter, you should be able to understand the importance of relationships in selling and how to develop effective relationships.
- You can understand why building relationships is important to selling.
- You can describe how consultative selling works.
- You can identify ways to develop long-term, effective relationships.
- You can understand how to build trust in a relationship.
- You can list the ways to network to build relationships.
- You can recognize how to use adaptive selling.
- You can understand how to integrate networking into your job search.
TEST YOUR POWER KNOWLEDGE (ANSWERS ARE BELOW)
- Describe consultative selling and why it is different from transactional selling.
- Describe lifetime value and why it is important in consultative selling.
- Explain how to communicate bad news to a customer.
- Who wins in the win-win-win relationship?
- What is networking, and why is it important in selling?
- Describe adaptive selling and why it is important.
- If your customer is a driver, what is the best way to adapt your selling style?
- Name at least three ways you can use networking to get the job you want.
POWER (ROLE) PLAY
Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice. The following are two roles that are involved in the same selling situation; one role is that of an interviewer and the other is that of the aspiring salesperson. This will give you the opportunity to think about this networking situation from the perspective of both the networker and the person with whom he is networking.
Read each role carefully along with the discussion questions. Then, be prepared to play either of the roles in class using the concepts covered in this chapter. You may be asked to discuss the roles and do a role-play in groups or individually.
Networking That Works
Role: Pharmaceutical sales manager
You are a sales manager at a major pharmaceutical company. You are always looking for extraordinary people—the ones who really stand out. You judge people by your first impression of them. Even if you are not hiring, you usually take the time to meet with people who impress you, or at the very least, you refer her to someone you think may be hiring. If you are not impressed, you are courteous to the person, but leave it at that.
- What would impress you if a potential candidate called to network with you?
- What information would you expect him to know about you?
- How would you respond to the networking phone call?
Role: College student
You are you. You are looking for a job in pharmaceutical sales, and you are networking to find any job opportunities in that area. You have been given the name and phone number of a sales manager at a major pharmaceutical company. You are not sure if the company is hiring right now, but the sales manager is well connected in the industry so he is a good person with whom to build a relationship and put your networking skills to work. You don’t know much about him, but you learned on his LinkedIn profile that he went to the University of Florida and also volunteers for The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
- What other research would you do before you called the sales manager?
- What is your objective for calling the sales manager?
- Assume you are calling the sales manager to network. How would you start the conversation?
- How would you wrap up the conversation?
- What would you do after the conversation?
PUT YOUR POWER TO WORK: SELLING U ACTIVITIES
- Identify at least one professional organization on campus and one organization off campus that you can join to enhance your networking opportunities. Go to the campus student services office or career center. Also, talk to a professor and a librarian to conduct your research to identify the organizations.
- Contact at least five people a week on your networking list. Ask for the names of additional people to contact and to build your network.
- Set up a profile on LinkedIn (if you haven’t already done so). Connect to at least fifteen people to start (use your networking list to build your LinkedIn connections). Ask for at least three introductions a week from people in your network. Contact each one personally and share what type of career you would like to pursue. Ask each one for additional names of people you can network with.
- Using LinkedIn, ask at least three professional people to recommend you. Consider people such as previous supervisors, professors, and internship coordinators.
- Create an account on Twitter. Follow at least twenty professional people in the industry in which you would like to get a job.
TEST YOUR POWER KNOWLEDGE ANSWERS
- Consultative selling occurs when you develop a one-to-one relationship with your customer and truly understand his needs, wants, and resources; it means putting the customer first. Consultative selling helps you develop short-term and long-term solutions for your customer. Transactional selling focuses on a single transaction with no input from or relationship with the customer.
- Lifetime value means that you consider not just one transaction with a customer but also the help and insight you can provide throughout the entire period that you do business with him. A customer that has only limited needs right now may develop into a lucrative customer over the course of time based on your advice and guidance.
- It’s best to deliver bad news in person or over the phone when time permits. This tells your customer that you think this is important. You should always communicate in an open, honest, and timely manner and provide a realistic solution to the problem. If you don’t have a solution, let the customer know when you will get back to her with an update.
- The customer, you, and your company all win in a win-win-win relationship.
- Networking is the art of building alliances or mutually beneficial relationships. Networking is built on the concept of exchange. In selling, you can expand the number of people you know, which can expand your business. When what you need provides value to someone else in your network, networking works. The more you provide value to other people, the higher the likelihood that they will go out of their way to help you.
- Adaptive selling occurs when a salesperson adapts and customizes her selling style based on the behavior of the customer. If you adapt to the customer’s social style, you can increase the chances that he will be open to hearing your message.
- Be professional; focus on facts and timelines that will allow your customer to see how quickly she can achieve her goal. Provide options that allow her to be in control.
- Create a networking list, join professional organizations, use online professional social networks, publicize your profile, ask for recommendations, join groups, create content, and follow up.