We hear it constantly. Sales representatives say, “I need something new to say because I can’t get more than a few seconds with my customer.” It’s easy to put the blame on the message. But in reality, the problem may not be your messaging—but rather your relationship.
We tend to do business with those we like. This makes sense—so much so that many of us feel this way almost instinctively. This belief has been validated by numerous experts, articles and research. However, this often cited phrase has led many in sales to develop friendships with customers. Developing a friendship is not the same as building a meaningful business relationship—and that distinction is important because you won’t get the same results.
“A perfect relationship takes a lot of practice to work. A lot of sacrifice, pain, regret and honesty. Most of all, it takes a lot of respect.” I saw this quote posted on the internet in different places so I’m not sure who wrote it but I thought the timing was fortuitous since we just celebrated Valentine’s day on Sunday.
Thanks to our technologically advanced world, there are many ways we can keep in touch with those people who matter most to us—seeing them in person, making phone calls, sending texts, emails, and/or posts on social media. When we reach out and touch someone it sends a message that this person matters to us. And the opposite is also true—when we let too much time slip by, we (often unconsciously) send a message that we have better things to do than to connect with this person and that they really aren’t that important to us.
“How can I get more time with the physicians I call on?” That’s a question I’m often asked when I work with BioPharma sales representatives. Gaining more time with customers seems to be one of the more challenging aspects of selling in the life sciences industry. Although there is no guaranteed way to get the healthcare professional to spend more time with you, I’m a big believer that building business relationships can be a major differentiator in how much time your customers will give you and how intently they will listen.
There seems to be many “rules” that we can apply to the different things we encounter in life. For example, when trying to understand compound interest, we can refer to the “Rule of 72.” And the “Rule of Thirds” provides direction as to how to make visual images more appealing. While these rules come in handy from time to time, the “Rule of 150” could arguably affect your quality of life. In a nutshell, this rule refers to the maximum number of people with whom any person can build meaningful relationships.
How important is listening when building a relationship? In my mind, this is an easy question to answer— listening is absolutely critical! In fact, I don’t know how you can build any relationship without the ability to listen. Listening is the most impactful way I know to connect with another person. Perhaps the more important question shouldn’t be if listening affects your ability to build relationships but “Are you a good listener?” Based on studies I’ve read, it’s evident that many of us aren’t.