The start of the relationship is a precious moment, during which a potential client chooses to dedicate their time to the seller and to begin their joint game. Writing the word “seller” I have in mind of course various consultants, corporate executives, company presidents and accountants; all those who at some point or another throughout the course of the development of a company are in some degree involved in gaining clients. It is thanks to their competences that customers become engaged, and engagement is a basic element of building a relationship and trust.
The world’s best salesmen, even though they are in fact involved in sales, say themselves that they are not selling anything. They ensure that others are committed emotionally and substantively to the transaction process. As I have learned from experience, the higher the price of your product, the more you and the product form one whole in the mind of the potential client, and therefore to accomplish a sale there must be first a relationship. From the perspective of the client, the choice to engage in the transaction is a diffcult one – from their side of it, it is a whole bunch of thoughts, dilemmas, and questions, which lead to the conclusion of “yes”. The client is always calculating their costs; meaning time, energy, the risk of unveiling themselves and sharing their problems, and the building of trust. For our part, let’s remember that just aswe meet others at market, our clients must face others who wish to have a bit of their time. In a previous article, I mentioned that this will be a lot easier if you know what virtue to present to what individual. Business owners tell us clearly what their expectations are: so many individuals strive to have a bit of their time, that they expect that if it in fact reaches the stage of the actual meeting, the consultant or sales rep will have something truly of value to bring to their attention. If at such a meeting it turns out that we missed on the potential clients’ expectations regarding the subject matter, then the depth of the relationship will ultimately suffer and be very di cult to restore to its previous state. To cause a customer to commit, we must think about what might be a real “eye- opener” for them.
Think what causes you to get involved in something and transfer this experience to the new situation, otherwise people will not open to you and therefore there will be no effects. If you already know your prospective clients because they are individuals you commonly see and deal with on a regular basis, this challenge becomes considerably easier, because you will have a general idea of what is of interest to them. When it concerns new relationships then you need to work a bit harder and do some probing into the general area, market, or branch. It is best if you have a research team, though most of us don’t have that luxury. In such a case, one must do their own legwork. At any rate, it is best to do this yourself. After all it is going to be you who will be talking (adding value, gaining trust, and leading towards committing to the deal) with the potential client. A client’s attention at the start will be drawn by anything new, exciting and intriguing, and if you wish to reengage an already existing business relationship, it would be to your benefit that they feel this way every time. When it comes to already existing relationships, we have it easier in the fact that gaining an audience with the client is almost guaranteed, and so our pitch will likely be listened to and heard out. Yet if the client does not find our offer attractive enough, then the once open door will slowly begin to shut on us. I believe that most salesmen and consultants have encountered the situation, where they begin to speak on a potentially important matter, and the other side receives them with avoidance of the topic and silence. Such situations can be avoided in various ways.
First of all, it is of value to know the potential client’s personality, interests, and type of business, so that the proposed subject matter is as close to the client’s interests as possible. It is also important in your initial statement, prior to the meeting, to clarify that you do not intend to interfere in the client’s affairs, but you have some thoughts and ideas which you will gladly share with them if they agree to meet with you. The longer you work dealing with clients from a particular branch of business, the more experience you will gain in speaking with potential clients and solving their problems. You will learn that problems which appear to be impossible to overcome can be handled in a matter of one or more meetings with a specialist of the particular subject matter: in this case you. Networking is a very valuable tool which leads to building relationships and the engagement of potential clients. You must have the right timing, create the right circumstances, and prepared substantively; and most importantly be aware of the urgency and importance of the issue which is intended to be discussed and solved. The relationship must have its adequate intensity, and you cannot speed up the pace. If the other side feels that we are trying to speed things up too much and that we are putting on too much pressure, then of course the result can be a very substantial slowdown and lesser commitment. The less committed the customer is, the lower the chances for a successful transaction. ■