Your mom said it best.
As a child, when you were fighting or arguing with a sibling or friend, your mom would say, “Billy, you know better than that! Now you make friends with Johnny.” Your mother never told you to use the alternative of choice close or the sharp angle close on Johnny. She never said to quote Johnny with our policy. She just said make friends. That may have been one of the most powerful sales and service lessons you ever got.
There’s an old business adage that says, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. And all things being NOT so equal, people STILL want to do business with their friends”. It is estimated that more than 50% of sales are made and business relationships are kept because of friendship.
In the South it’s called “the good ol’ boy network,” and Up North they say it’s “Who you know,” but it’s really just friendship selling.
If you think you’re going to make the sale because you have the best product, best service or best price, dream on, Bubba. You’re not even half right. If 50% of sales are made on a friendly basis, and you haven’t made friends with your prospect (or customer), you’re missing 50% of your market.
And the best part is that friends don’t need to sell friends by using sales techniques. Think about it, you don’t need sales techniques when you ask a friend out, or ask for a favor — you just ask.
Looking to make more sales? You don’t need more sales techniques, you need more friends.
Think about your best customers. How did they get that way? Don’t you have great relationships with them? If you are friends with your best customer, it will often eliminate the need for price checking, price negotiating and delivery time demands. You can even occasionally give bad service and still keep the customer.
There’s another huge bonus to being friends — competition is eliminated. Your best competitor couldn’t blast you away from a customer who is also a friend. Most sales people think that unless they are calling a customer to sell something that it’s a wasted call. Nothing could be further from the truth. People don’t like to be sold — but they love to buy.
How do you start? Slowly. It takes time to develop a relationship; it takes time to build a friendship. (If you are reading this and thinking, “I don’t have time for this relationship stuff, I’m too busy making sales” — find a new profession, this one won’t last long.)
Here are a few places to meet or take your customer. The biggest mistake salespeople make is giving away tickets and not going WITH the customer. You can learn a lot (and give value to a relationship) spending a few quality hours with the people who provide the money to your company.
A different venue than the office will begin building friendships and relationships. Here are a few to ponder:
• a ball game
• the theater
• a concert
• a gallery crawl
• a chamber after hours event
• a community help project
• a breakfast, a lunch, a dinner
• a seminar given by your company.
If your customer has kids, get a few tickets to an I-Max theater. Go on the weekend. Talk about solidifying a relationship — an I-Max movie is great fun, and it ain’t just for kids.
Join a business association and get involved. I belong to the Metrolina Business Council — MBC. It’s a 20-year-old group of business owners and managers whose main objective is to do business with one another and help members get business. But MBC is not just about business, it’s about relationships and friendships — ask any member.
CAUTION: This does not eliminate your need to be a master salesman. You must know sales techniques to capture the other half of the market. So keep reading books and listening to those tapes in your car.
Having moved from Up North (Cherry Hill, N.J.) to the South (Charlotte, N.C.) has helped me understand the value of business friends. They are much easier to establish in the South — and more loyal.
I’m often in conversations where someone is lamenting the fact they can’t get into or around the so-called “good ol’ boy network.” That is the biggest bunch of baloney and lamest sales excuse I’ve heard. All the salesperson is saying is that he has failed to bring anything of value to the table, and failed to establish a relationship or make a friend — AND SOMEONE ELSE HAS.
You can only earn a commission using a sales technique, but you can earn a fortune building friendships and relationships.
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Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail