Some things just take time…
Sales representatives are under pressure to perform immediately. They often want to shortcut their way to results.
I’ve managed and coached many new account managers and sales people throughout my career. In particular, the kind who will have the same accounts for a long period of time. I advise them that you can ‘hit it off’ with an account and there may be a strong willingness to start working together, but all substantial relationships take time…and there are no shortcuts.
Being described with words like integrity, respect, and reliability is the cornerstone for the account reps success. But what does it take to build a reputation for these qualities? Time.
Earning respect, instilling integrity, and displaying reliability all happen over time. Even if someone grants you respect, it only means they are treating you respectfully and expect to see the same in kind. Conversely, some accounts take a ‘wait and see’ approach with new account reps, placing the onus entirely on the rep to prove themselves.
At minimum, it takes three visits with an account (with a reasonable time in between) for the foundation of a relationship to form. The first meeting is always easy: introductions, a bit of background, and lots of handshakes. The second meeting is usually more structured and if the rep is lucky, they will leave with action items – without action items how do you prove yourself? You become reliable by doing what you say you will do. It’s vital to create these opportunities early and often. It gives you structured reasons to follow up with the account.
By the third meeting with an account, cordial kindness has usually diminished and they account wants to understand one thing: Can this person help me grow or manage my business? If the rep has found opportunities to prove themselves and display their capabilities, then they are on their way to building a successful business relationship with their account. If not, then it’s time to inform Houston that you have a problem.
It’s critical that both managers and account reps have patience when it comes to relationship building. Most managers and the people they tend to hire are ones who have always taken great pride at being faster, quicker, and outmaneuvering their competition. They are often fast learners who when they hear a project will take them 10 hours, they tell themselves they can do it in eight…and they are right. I always ask them one question: “If you and the other guy both scrape your knee in the same way and at the same time, is yours going to heal faster?”
Some things just take time.
The scary thing is: it takes time, effort and consistency to become known for integrity, respect and reliability…yet only an instant to lose them. But that’s another thought for another day.
What is some of your best advice for building relationships?