The New York Stock Exchange launched when 24 New York stockbrokers and merchants gathered to do business under a Buttonwood tree in New York in 1792. They traded together because they trusted each other to fulfill the obligations of their agreements. 223 years and trillions of dollars later, this Exchange is still fundamentally based on trusting relationships.
Despite a sales training industry featuring seven steps processes to successful selling, or twelve point programs to winning more business, or 30 quotes to inspire better growth, sales fundamentals ultimately return to trust, delivery, and repetition. Countless details reside inside these fundamentals. Nevertheless, sales are an exchange that results from a business relationship. Business people may dislike the sales process, and even dislike sales professionals. But who in their right mind will pay, or exchange, something of value without the expectation of receiving something of value in return? So, how is the exchange facilitated?
In business, sales essentially represents an exchange in value between two parties. One party pays, and the other party provides a good or service. Trust involves both parties expecting the other to meet their obligation faithfully. The relationship component concerns the fact that exchanges rely on effective communication, respect, and personal accountability. Whether the transaction involves e-commerce, brick and mortar retail, or a multi-year service agreement, trust depends on both parties fully expecting the other party to live up to their claims. Furthermore when things go wrong, a person will communicate with another person to maintain the relationship. Eventually, business value becomes a direct byproduct of linking a good relationship to the exchange.
After consummating the sale, the good or service must be delivered. The relationship specific to delivery is a substantial part of exchanges. Positive experiences from the delivery person, the purchase’s packaging, and the customer service professional, all contribute to the relationships’ value. Who really wants a gourmet meal thrown at you in a paper sack? Essentially, service delivery is part of the purchase. The overall relationship coincides with the interaction beyond the actual purchase. A good relationship, or good feeling, upon delivery is part of the value the purchaser expects from the exchange.
This stage has the most explicit connection to ongoing relationships driving exchanges. Success relies on the ability to repeatedly offer goods or services in exchange for payment. Furthermore, the most productive and cost-effective way to repeat sales is from established customers and referrals. How are referrals earned? Simply, a satisfied customer finds a prospect for the selling party. This exchange depends on social, or professional, capital. Reputations reflect this capital. And, successful professionals value it. To prospect again successfully, sales entities must be mindful of their reputations. Equally important, their customers and referral sources must have valued relationships based on good reputations to facilitate additional exchanges.
Clearly, relationships and good feelings experienced during the purchase and delivery contribute value to exchanges. Whether, buying a candy bar from a convenience store, a luxury automobile from a dealership, or computer hardware from a conglomerate the buying experience has value. Business results rely on the perceived value of trust. Whether it is the referral that comes from the satisfied customer, or the bad review on Yelp, an exchange’s value is based on the relationship. Be sure to make each connection in each relationship a contributor to overall value. Ultimately, the positive relationships are capital and are essential to ongoing exchanges.
By Glenn W Hunter
Principal of Hunter and Beyond