Oct 22, 2009

Are Sales and Relationships Synonymous Terms

I am talking to a bank manager about the possibility of creating a sales training program for her bank.

It's an intriguing opportunity, for several reasons. For one, she mentioned to me that she likes the idea, because her firm currently does not have any formal sales training.

"We call it customer relationship skills but same thing," she corrected herself.

"Is it?" I replied.

"Well, in the end, we want more business," the bank manager said.

This comment is causing me to think about sales in the way my client thinks of sales: where each sell is not really so much about the sell, itself, but about the relationship with each client.

Are sales and relationships synonymous terms?

You see, if the bank has built a strong relationship with you, any time you need to store money (most current "savings accounts"), transact money (checking accounts), save money (with "money market" accounts), or get more money (such as through loans) you will likely consider the bank where you handle your checking or savings account for that new transaction. Am I right or wrong? So, it IS about the relationship!

Imagine if banking approached sales from the perspective of "wham, bam, thank you Ma'am!" and just got their money and then got out, how would they ever succeed? Rather, the bank must deliver upon the promise of (1) being there, (2) offering good rates, and (3) offering outstanding service. If a bank does these three things, and does a better job of building relationships than peer banks, they are likely to grow.

There's more to it than that. The bank also has to offer unique banking products at the right time. But no matter what products they offer, if you don't know who they are how will they sell you anything? It starts with relationship!

But when we think of sales as a relationship building process, or even a "relationship" in simple terms, how else might that impact the way we approach the sales process?

When I consider how to answer this question, I realize that a bank relationship could be like any relationship we build with our friends. How do we form friendships? We find things in common, right? We do things together! If a bank is to be a friend, we must find ways to "relate" to each other. How many times to friends invite each other over or out to do things? With that being the case, banks ought to invite people over. Perhaps having an "open-house" for businesses. Or, participating in "Art After Dark" nights... or having "meet our new business" breakfasts. Anything like this would be valuable, from the relationship-building perspective.

What other things do we do to build relationships? Do we compliment each other? If a bank runs a newsletter, the bank ought to compliment certain customers. Perhaps awards for various things like innovation, creativity, good use of money, outstanding accounting habits, or other creative things like this would be valuable in the process of strengthening a relationship.

When do people need banks the most? This is another area I feel needs focus.

When prospecting, how would banks prospect? If I were a banker, I think I'd be looking for who moved to the area, for one. Or, perhaps, the bank could seek out families who just gave birth to a child. Maybe they could offer a "new child college fund" to parents in the area. Or, parents of kids entering 1st grade could be offered a "first account for a first grader" program. As we know, the earlier you start a savings account, the more that account will be worth by the time the child enters college.

I remember how Citibank built their credit card program by offering cards to college graduates. At the time, many banks wouldn't issue you a credit card unless you already had one (an oxymoron, huh?) and Citibank saw the wisdom in being the first bank to offer you a card, you'd likely keep their card for the longest time. It was true, I had my Citibank card longer than any other credit card.

These are all things I'm starting to think about regarding this program for the bank. What ways is your business unique? How can you relate it to other parts of life? This is how we must think when we are selling. Because sales and relationships can by synonymous.

Do you run a sales team? Are you seeking innovative ways to help your people succeed more?

Implementing a sales training program is a wise idea. The most successful organizations I've ever been part of or led always offer people who interface their customers training. It is a key to your success. I'm going to relaunch Concepts of SellingTM and Cold To GoldTM in the next month (November 2009), so stay tuned for ways ARRiiVE Business Solutions might assist you in this process.

Above photo courtesy SXC. Copyright © 1999-2009 by ARRiiVE Business Solutions. All Rights Reserved. SUBSCRIBE.

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