Why do people buy that expensive suit from the same place for 20 years? Why does IBM remain the No.2 software company in the market even though it is acknowledged that their software is not that great? Why do I go out of my way to pick up my pool chemicals from the same guy when I could get them at one of 30 different places? Relationships.
There is an old sales adage ‘People don’t buy from companies, people buy from people’. I believe that the strength of this statement increases in proportion to the size and complexity of the sale. If you are buying a razor, do your really care where you get it? But, if you are buying a car or spending $1M on a new software system, the buyer wants a relationship. Why? I believe that it centers around one thing: risk. Life is filled with uncertainty, if a person purchases that new system and it fails – they could lose their bonus or even their job. The hard truth is that there is no way to create that guarantee (outside of some very strict contract that most vendors will never agree to). So, the only thing left is the relationship.
The relationship, if done correctly, builds trust and provides a sense of comfort. That trust is often hard won, but when it exists, smart sales people recognize that it transcends cost. While trust provides the buyer with the qualitative benefit of knowing that they will not be abandoned after the sale (If all heck breaks loose, the vendor will remain a trusted partner and be there to help through any bumps), it provides the salesperson with the quantitative benefit of being able to monetize that trust through a higher price (due to perceived value) and repeat business.
But do people really only buy from people? How do you build those relationships? Those are topics for the next blogs.