I am sure you have heard something like this after a sales call to a customer:

“It was an excellent meeting, they really like us and what we do. I got on really well with the buyer and their team. It seems we support the same sports team and our kids are the same age. We had so much in common. I am sure that we are high on their list of suppliers. It went so well they said I could pop in any time for a coffee and a chat”.

The words and details may be different, but the outcome the salesperson thought they had achieved was this – I advanced the relationship!

I disagree.

And I should know as I have said this so many times in my long sales career.

What they have achieved is a continuation of the sales process or the relationship. But that is not what is needed.

What is required is an advancement of the relationship.

By which I mean advancing the sale or relationship by getting the buyers team to commit to an action or actions that moves the sale or the relationship forward.

Some examples might include:

  • Agreeing the next stage in the sales process
  • Agreeing dates for future learning events
  • Receiving personal introductions, referrals and recommendations to expand the network of contacts
  • Agreement to set up a tender alert system to ensure early engagement with future work

All of these are actions that frame the future rather than vague promises of keeping in touch.

So how do you advance the sale or relationship?

The way to guarantee to advance the sales or the relationship is by stating clearly in advance a direction to go in or a goal to move towards.

Ask yourself this question: what is the goal or what are the goals of this meeting, phone call or email that will move us closer to a deal or sale?

Asking that question ensures that you advance whatever you are seeking to achieve. Success is determined by completing specific actions.

Try it. Let me know how you get on…