I Couldn’t Care Less

RIP Relationship Sales. Challenge is the new value statement.

The basic premise of relationship selling is, “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Demonstrate your interest in a relationship with me and I’m more likely to buy from you.

This used to be a success tactic. It gave good results. Then the cheese was moved and it stopped working. What happened?

The Challenger Sale, by Matthew Dixon, explores this question with illuminating findings.

Prior to the crash of 2008-09, generally speaking, things were humming along. Business was good and growing. If you worked hard and smart, could communicate well and connect with people, you could earn a decent living in sales. But this book explores why, after the crash, one particular type of seller smoked the rest, and it wasn’t who we thought it would be.

Also surprising was the fact that this sales style is 200%+ more effective than second best regardless of economic conditions. The book asserts that sellers who can effectively challenge their customers are 200%+ more effective at goal achievement irrespective of economic climate.
That is the premise of solution based selling.

Transactions, conversely, can thrive through relationship selling. The customer has a need, you fulfill it. Simple. If you have a good paying transactional sales job, that’s great. Enjoy it while you can, because many transactions can be automated eventually.

But selling a solution requires, at the very least, a thorough client needs analysis before you even have a shot at creating demand for your service. If you don’t already have a relationship with the customer, it’s very difficult to establish one today because of time constraints. Everyone is doing the job of 2.5 people or more. How do you get the data dump, the back story, the juice, from a stranger whose ass is on fire all day long?

The answer lies in being able to demonstrate some intellectual property. What might I know about your business that you struggle to understand? (I’ve been doing this a while, maybe longer than you, and my outside perspective comes with a side of coffee, if you like.) What do I know about your competition? (I talk to them as often as I do to you.) What do I know about your industry’s top performers? (I talk to them, too.)

I won’t ask you dumb questions like what keeps you up at night. I need only look at my research and I know that.

A fun day for me is when I meet a new client who reluctantly granted the meeting, gives me a clip greeting, and starts off our meeting while reading emails on his cell phone. Within a couple of minutes, the phone disappears, the room tension relaxes, and he’s suddenly so eager to hear what I have to say that I have to slow things down, because I’m still learning my gig.

The lesson here is, “They don’t care what you know, until they KNOW what you KNOW.” That is the foundation for relationship in the current market.

Busy executives don’t need you to remember their birthday. Facebook will give them 100 wishes – do they need 101?

Busy executives need information, answers, solutions. Fast and free, at first. How did Facebook hook you to begin with? Free at first, now you need it like crack, so you gotta sift through ads. What about Pandora? Free at first, now they cut you off at a cap, unless you subscribe.

If you are selling a big ticket, make sure when your customer invests his time to meet with you, you give him his money’s worth. Do it every time to ensure there will be a next time.


About Melanie M. Morris
Broker of Trust and Authenticity I'm really a sales executive, but I'd rather identify with these ideals rather than to simply say...I'm a seller.

2 Responses to I Couldn’t Care Less

  1. Bailey Dempsey says:

    Clever insight into the world of making the sale.

  2. Melanie M. Morris says:

    Thank you Pat!

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