A generation ago, readin’, ritin’ and ‘rithmatic were the three R’s of elementary learning. Today, relationships, referrals, and revenue are the three R’s of sophisticated selling! Sophisticated selling has nothing to do with style points. Several poor performing business development professionals have plenty of style. Sophisticated selling has everything to do with intelligently navigating the complexities of communicating, then delivering value to prospects who become highly valued customers. Cultivating highly valued customers is how sales professionals make a living. Dazzling highly valued customers is how some sales professionals make a very good living!
Fundamentally, relationships are the gateway to creating customers. Sophisticated sales professionals use relationships to benefit from introductions that lead to customers, or to take the initiative to secure connections with prospects and targets. In both cases, the essential characteristic for relationships is establishing like and trust; bridging credibility between buyers and sellers. Poor sales professionals spend too much time on this particular step. It leverages the interpersonal strengths of the stereotypical sales professional. Unfortunately, in itself, relationships do not create the sales which are the lifeblood of the sales professional and their organization.
However, when sales professionals pursue relationships fully intent on launching the essential first step to successful selling, then the process makes progress. And, progress means referrals. Referrals take the good feelings of relationships and expands them into tangible business development opportunities. Referrals maximize the credibility required to communicate value. A sales professional can sell youth, beauty and riches in a jar! But if the customer does not believe it, then they will not buy it. Referrals work because credibility works. Tell your referral partners both the value that you create and that you want them to communicate. Then, create incentives in terms of professional, social or financial rewards so that they will perform the referral function.
As relationships evolve into referrals, then referrals must transform into revenue. The bottom line of the entire sales process is, well, the bottom line. Revenue is the goal. Once a connection has been established and credibility has been transferred, then the fundamentals of probing for problems and delivering solutions through your product or service attain increased urgency. Being certain that the emerging customer is willing and able to pay for the solution is a critical, next milestone. Nevertheless, without a laser-like focus on closing the sale and generating revenue, the whole three R experience is simply a social exercise. Relationships, referrals, connections, credibility, all must point directly toward revenue. That is the purpose of a sales professional.
For business to thrive, sales professionals must successfully generate sales. The three R’s, Relationships, Referrals, and Revenue, are the cornerstones of that success. The skills must be developed and mastered for the successful professional to move through the sales process. Most importantly, consummating the transaction must remain the focus at every step. The organization depends on it. The sales professional’s livelihood depends on it.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter & Beyond