One of the best stories I have after spending many years in the field with sales is about a simple, but brilliant approach one field rep took to making and building great relationships.
He was an account manager in the southeastern US. I was visiting to meet with some customers/prospects with another sales rep. As often happens, one of our scheduled meetings was cancelled at the last minute. So, we asked if anyone else had any meetings I could join (I was doing sales enablement/product evangelism at the time).
This account manager then proceeded to make a phone call and got us a great meeting with an important prospect and the 3 top decision makers for the next morning (the top 3 execs at a 500 person company). I’d never before seen anything like it before – 1 call, 12 hours notice, the right people, etc…
Being very curious, I asked him what his secret was. I was dumfounded by his answer (paraphrased here): “I build my relationships based on valuing my customers’ time. I only call them when I have something valuable to offer. And, when I first meet a new prospect/customer, I promise that I will never waste their time.”
When I probed more, I learned that he regularly checks in with customers, but he makes the conversations very quick and he always prepares – with some valuable information to share.
It sounds so simple, but think about your experiences on both sides of the selling relationship. It was very profound for me.
It’s not just useful for salespeople, but true in many other relationships. Why are meetings 30, 60 or 90 minutes? It isn’t because we always have 30, 60 or 90 minutes worth of value.
Perhaps the best way to build relationships is by showing respect. And, respect for someone’s time is perhaps as valuable as any other.