It's that time of year when sales executives and salespeople are re-examining their strategies- what worked and what didn't?
Unfortunately, I have talked with more than a few that are re-examining their job prospects because things didn't work out as planned.
At the same time my husband and I celebrated 11 years of marriage last fall. Wow, it has gone by fast! But as they say, time flies when you're having fun. Which I know is true, because my first marriage was for 7 years and it felt like 70...
But that's another story.
Getting fired and getting divorced can feel similar in many ways. And the factors to succeed in both also have a few things in common.
So what makes for a successful marriage, and a successful sales year or career?
Here are 3 things I have observed:
First, your relationships with your connections matter more than you think they do. I met my husband Steve at a keg party at a mutual friend’s house. If it hadn't been for that common connection, we would never have been in the same place at the same time and had the opportunity to meet. This holds for salespeople as well, and especially for entrepreneurs.
Your close connections will let you know about opportunities before anyone else does and will make the introductions to get you in the door. They are the ones who will refer to you others like them that are fun to work with and who you can help. And the cost of acquiring a customer by referral is far lower than any other means.
So make a plan for how you will proactively nurture the connections you have to form deeper relationships. Stay in touch with previous customers when they go to other companies. Introduce your connections to each other. Reach out just to see what is happening with them. Send a note or postcard to say thank you. Take them out for lunch when you are in town. Ask for their opinions on things. Set up your CRM to remind you to reach out to your top connections once a week, your level connections once a month, and your next level every other month. It's doesn’t have to be complicated, just consistent.
Now, just being at the same keg party as Steve wasn't enough, because what most don't know is that I went to that party with two other guys and was in no way interested in meeting a third. Oh, that's right- I was a player...
But this is the second things sales can learn- Steve was persistent. No matter how many shots I made him take hoping he would pass out, he was still standing and persistent. By the end of the night I gave him my number- despite the fact that I had vowed to be done with men for a while. I don't really remember what he said throughout the night, but I know that he didn't talk all about himself, and what his agenda was.
Now, I don't really have to tell you how that relates to sales do I?
Reduce the Friction
Finally, it takes more than a good "how we met" story to keep a marriage going for 11 years. Just like it takes more than a good first sales experience to keep a relationship with a customer going strong. Like in our marriage, you will need to find ways to reduce the friction and confusion in how you communicate with customers and clients. If the only time you talk to them is when you want something- guess what? They ain't gonna want to talk with you.
And if you aren't taking the time and being proactive about that relationship, things will start to get taken for granted. And like leaving your dirty socks everywhere, it gets annoying- quick.
This goes for salespeople and their buyers, and sales executives with their teams. The sale doesn't stop once they buy, the recruiting doesn't end when they accept the offer, and the dating must continue if there is to be a marriage next- it's all just the beginning.
I will leave you with this bonus lesson-
If you think that marriage, or customer and employee relationships, are rainbows and rose petals and that everything will be great from here on out, you are in for a bumpy ride.
Shit is gonna happen. Things will go wrong. Miscommunication will happen. Feeling and egos will get hurt. It’s what you do when shit does happen that will either build trust, or chip away at it.
Take ownership of it when things go wrong. Apologize for your part in letting it go wrong. Communicate a plan to move forward. Better yet, have an upfront contract with your spouse, buyer, or employee. When something goes wrong, how do you want it handled?
Now go out there and love on each other- just keep it HR safe.
Share the love by sharing this with your team, your co-workers, or heck- even your significant other. Subscribe to the Unbound Growth blog or Youtube channel for more random observations about sales and life and what one can learn from the other.
And comment below- how do you plan to maintain your relationships in 2020?