How does the role of sales manager influence their team to create long term relationships with their customers? For starters, the number one most important job of the sales manager is to ensure that he or she hires the RIGHT people onto the sales team. He/she should target people with a great work ethic, a sense of urgency, humble yet zealous for the job at hand – people willing to think outside the box and work independently, and who are free from the fear of failure. Also, he/she should try to find people who are relators, who can discover and sympathize with people's concerns and fears, but yet who are business savvy and are able to position offerings that are right for the customer. This list could go on and on, but I feel very strongly about it. Being in sales is hard, and it's not for everyone. You can waste years on a poor sales hiring decision. It's the sales manager's most important decision – bar none in my opinion – to pick the right people.
As far as long term relationships go with customers, hiring the right people can have a significant impact. One poor exchange with a customer can quickly sour what used to be a healthy relationship. Also, it is obvious that a sales manager should be providing the leadership to the staff. Getting the right people on the team, who are eager and willing to learn – even when they are very senior – is important. As part of this mentorship, some key areas the manger should champion would be:
- Make it about customers, not merely revenue
- Make it about relationships, not merely customers
- Make it about partnerships, not merely relationships
Partners, by definition, are in it for the long term – but it starts by taking your mind off the Benjamin's. Instead, you must focus on the objectives of the business or the individual and how to help them create value. Just like anything else, you can't know someone well until you have a relationship with that person that is built on a framework of trust. Ever wonder why people in sales go golfing so much? If a sales manager encourages a customer-centric, relationship driven sales model with the right people on the team, he or she is sure to create the partnerships necessary that helps relationships endure for the long term.
What do you do to help maintain long term customer relationships?