New Technology vs. Long Term Relationship

Just in case you haven’t noticed, there is a new normal in doing business, however, the basis of sales is still asking questions & actively listening, your client or prospect will tell you what they want or don’t want.

I was talking to a partner recently & he was bragging about new technologies he was employing within his practice. But, his core business had not improved & so I suggested to him that he should be asking himself  “Have I adapted my new technologies to better fit my clients?” He replied, “Technology adapted strategically by small and mid size businesses can really make the difference.” 

Frankly I don’t care if my employer has developed any new technologies. (That’s if I had an employer)

Do I disagree with him? You bet I do.

People don’t business with technology, they do business with people, so you can have all of the new technology, solutions & resources at your finger tips, but if you can’t build long term relationships with your prospects & customers all your technology will just gather dust.

Here’s a good example of this: 3-4 years ago a company thought they needed MAS500. They were absolutely convinced by a VAR  that nothing less robust than MAS500 was going to fit their long term needs.

We did our MAS500 product presentation, but at the end of the day I knew that they didn’t need MAS500 & I wasn’t comfortable with trying to jam MAS500 down their throats just because

a) We needed the sale

b) Our MAS500 consultant needed the work

c) We needed the sale to maintain our tier.

Lest I forget, they didn’t have the budget for MAS500.

Notice that I said that we opened up with a product presentation because we let a customer dictate our sales methodology. I don’t let this happen but I was brought into the process after it started and I was squirming through the entire presentation. They hadn’t been asked any hard hitting qualification questions other than the budget  question, so the VAR that I was with ran with what he thought they were willing to pay.

A couple of weeks later I took the controller out to lunch and told him that after spending some time with him and completing a Needs Analysis that the product he should be looking was MAS200. The difference in cost was about $75K with all the bells & whistles. 

Later that week the CFO got fired & the project went cold. Now fast forward a few years, he’s the CFO at another company, we have lunch at least once a month & because we’re both baseball fans; we have gone to a San Diego Padres game & plan on going to more this season. He has sent me pictures of his 7 month old baby & keeps me up to date with what’s happening at his company.

See a trend developing? It’s called building a relationship. 

About 2-3 weeks ago he called to let me know that they now have a firm purchase date for a Sage product & guess who is going to get the sale? That’s right me.

As the controller told me once, that they had 4 VARs come in initially and I was the only one who had bothered to stay in touch. I haven’t stayed in touch with him because I thought there was an imminent sale on the horizon, When they finally purchase a solution this May it will have been 4-5 years since our initial meeting. I do it because I enjoy his company & we have similar interests like baseball.

Did we dazzle them with technology? Not even. I simply asked questions and then actively listened to what he had to say. I was just doing what was he & I together felt was best for him and the future of his company. 

More importantly I have never tried to peddle software. I’ve been there when he’s had questions.  

Try it, I guarantee you that not only will your pipeline be full of quality prospects, but you’ll have happier clients because they know that you have their interest in mind and that you will be there no matter what. 

Happy 2010

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One thought on “New Technology vs. Long Term Relationship

  1. Great post, Bill! And, one that most sales people should read and take heed… Unfortunately, no matter how much we salespeople try to incorporate this age-old principle, some of us work for corporations who just don’t have the capacity to understand this principle. Instead, they micro-manage us by metrics and other methods. I don’t know where this new school of management style comes from, but it can’t go more against this age-old principle.

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