I was recently doing some business with a contact that my business partner has known for years. “he’s a good ol’ boy” my business partner said, “he’s old school, you’ll like him!”, and so I did, but whilst dealing with him, there were a few things that occurred to me, especially compared to sales professionals I have worked with over the last few years.
My contact, let’s call him Bob, was asking me the situation with a few companies that we were both selling to, at the end of the conversation I suggested that I should e-mail him a summary. Bob was lost, why on earth would someone do such a thing to him, he doesn’t use e-mail, in fact, he gets his wife to work the fax machine when communication of this nature is warranted.
It’s also important to recognise that Bob, within his sector, is the main man. He knows everyone, they know him, he talks with authority and has personal relationships with all senior personnel with the majority of companies in his area. He’s a genuine sales professional with a reputation that any sales professional would kill for in their own sector.
The cynic in me may have suggested that Bob had forged these relationships in the old days, my cynical side was right. It may also suggest that with new media tools such as Twitter, Linked-In and e-mail, then these relationships could only grow stronger and be an asset to the way Bob does business, my cynical side would be wrong.
Bob has built his relationship through personal relationships; when he needs to ask a question, get some information or want to make a social connection, he doesn’t e-mail, he doesn’t twitter, he doesn’t set his update on Linked-In, he picks up the phone and he speaks with people.
Social Media is a great asset in a social media dictated world, this post is not designed to suggest that these tools are a scourge to building meaningful relationships. The post is to highlight what a sales professional’s best friend should be, the phone, the meeting, the forging of relationships in a one-to-one environment.
The next time I want to speak to a client, I won’t nudge them with an e-mail, I’ll call them. Bob has reminded me that you don’t get to forge relationships as strong as those that he has by being distant. This isn’t any major revelation, but may be a stark reminder to any sales professional who spends half their day on e-mails.
Talk to your clients, meet with them, get to know them, these relationships will help you forge a better relationship than any electronic means of communication. The reason these ol’ Boys have such great relationships isn’t just because they have been around for a while, it’s how they communicate with their colleagues, we can’t afford to swap everything for electronic networking.