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8 Keys to building Relationships with your Customers, Prospects and Partners

Sales, one of the oldest professions in the world, and for thousands of years very little has changed. Traders ventured across the seas, across deserts and mountain ranges to obtain goods to bring back to their customers.

The industrial revolution of the 19th Century started to alter the production of goods. Factories started to pump out products at an alarming rate that easily oversupplied the local markets. So, companies began to develop sales channels to build out their distribution networks and reach out to new markets. In those days long term partnerships were formed through personal relationships. We knew our customers and they knew and depended on us to bring them the latest and greatest offerings.

Over the last 20 years technology started to make an impact on the way we sell. We began to reach out and touch our customers through direct mail, telesales, faxes and eventually e-mail broadcasting. Companies found with these technologies they could pitch products and services to hundreds, thousands and now even millions of customers and prospects with a few mouse clicks and keystrokes. It all seemed so productive, but what it really occurred was pushing us further away from the people and eliminated many of the personal relationships we once coveted.

The truth of the matter is we seem to be attacking our customers and prospects with technology in our attempt to stay top of mind. With all this information noise coming at our buyers how do we really stay top of mind? As well, many predicted that all this technology would be the demise of the sales professional. As customers would prefer the self service model and browse our online catalogues making their purchases online. Well we can’t deny that e-commerce will continue to grow, but we are also finding buyers requesting more personalized relationships as they tire of complex phone answering services and faceless call centers.

In fact nearly all my customers (technology and non-technology) are asking me were they can find some good professional sales people. This is one of the reasons I have been asked by VarCoach.com and Xchange Canada to write a regular column on professional selling.

This month we will begin to explore what it means to be a “highly effective sales professional”. Future articles will dive into other areas such as understanding the technology buying and sales process; and the best practice use of CRM and Sales Technology.

8 attributes of high performing technology sales professionals working in today’s information overloaded world.

1. Excellent communicators, listeners and presenters. Masters at keeping in touch with their customers, prospects and partners on a continuous basis.

2. Build relationships at the right level and are comfortable dealing with Senior IT and Line of Business Management. They become trusted advisors and are seen as problem solvers.

3. Clearly present the value of themselves, their company and its products/services. As well know how to build solutions that buyers can clearly see the benefits and understand their return on investment.

4. Specialists in their subject matter and continually develop an understanding of the technology they represent and how it is being leveraged in their customers industry.

5. Understand what is required to win business and are not afraid to ask for the order. .

6. Skilled time managers, focused, self motivated and possess a sense of urgency and look at sales as a profession and continually work to improve their sales and business skills.

7. Leverage CRM technology to improve communications and increase their personal productivity.

8. Identify with the customers buying process and work a well defined repeatable sales process.

I guarantee that if you follow these 8 attributes your sales career will look so bright you may need to start wearing shades!