Cassie understood the importance of maintaining great relationships with her outside sales partners. Without their support, her earnings would fall by more than 50 percent. However, because her products made up such a small percentage of their overall business, she also knew she needed them more than they needed her.
To maintain priority status with her sales agents, Cassie committed to making her products easy to sell. She persistently searched for new retail outlets by venturing into demographically desirable locations and introducing herself to store owners. If they expressed an interest in her product, she sent their information to her sales associates, even if the contact was outside their contracted sales region. Her actions kept her product on her sales partners' minds and amplified their loyalty to her business.
Our bonds with all types of people, from our mentors to our colleagues, help us develop and implement unique strategies. Nevertheless, it's our dealings with sales professionals, such as distributors and buyers, that are critical to our marketing and sales success. Advancing these relationships gets our products into stores and in front of prospective customers.
For most of us, though, relationship building doesn't come naturally. To develop a closer bond with people who affect your business, start by being approachable. Sharing your knowledge and personality with others makes them want to know more about your business.
Here's how to kick-start the process of building and maintaining a thriving relationship with your sales team.
- Appreciate the sales professional's position. Listen to and support the efforts of your salespeople. Ask how you can make their jobs easier, and honor your commitments to them. Be open-minded, but say no when necessary; they recognize you're running a business. Honesty brings value to your relationships and helps establish even tighter connections to your business.
- Be prepared to give your salespeople effective sales aids. Distributors, sales representatives and buyers often request distinctive marketing collateral to increase the effectiveness of their sales efforts. When they request brochures, display ads or other media, maintain a positive attitude and do your best to deliver these materials. If there's something you can't realistically create, ask for help. Sales professionals can often tap into their experience to offer workable solutions.
- Create opportunities for communication. Keep your sales professionals' attention on your product by interacting with them on a regular basis. Work hard to understand their businesses and sales techniques so you can help them succeed. Build their loyalty by keeping your eyes and ears open for new business opportunities. Refer new customers to them or send them relevant articles on the latest industry trends and innovations.
- Demonstrate your commitment to the relationship. Appreciate people's efforts. A simple thank you goes a long way when it comes to bonding. Phone calls are helpful, but they don't produce the same effect as written recognition. When someone lands a new account, send them a personal message. If they go out of their way to help you, send a letter to their boss. Small, personal gestures go far in helping people remember you.
Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.