Lewis' Posts - Lewis' Blog
If you want to sell to small businesses, you must be willing to invest your time building relationships. The most important lesson to learn about small business owners is that, although they may have years of corporate experience, they make decisions differently now that they are investing their own money. They take longer to buy a product or service and they understand that they can buy that product or service from a variety of vendors. At the end of the day, their decision to buy is not based on functionality, but on value, and that means that they buy the "who" not the "what".
In other words, they are buying you. And at the top of the list of qualities that they look for before they buy from you are trust and credibility. Since telling someone to trust us doesn't work, we have to show them. And that takes time. To be successful, we need to build relationships with those small businesses that represent our best customers. The most effective way to build a relationship is not cold calling or selling; it is networking.
Through networking we meet small business owners and executives on safe ground, where we can begin the process of getting to know each other. This may begin at a Chamber of Commerce After Hours Event, a Tradeshow, a Rotary meeting or any number of places. But no matter where it begins, we must recognize that sincerity is the key to success and that we need to be ourselves, we need to be authentic. And we need to recognize that we are building relationships, which may take a year or more, not selling products and services.
Following are the goals we should set in relationship building:
1. Establish Trust
2. Establish that the interaction is important
3. Establish that we can help each other via this social interaction
4. Recognize that because we trust each other, have shared something mutually important and both have benefited from it, we can establish mutual acceptance and say to each other, "I'm a good person and so are you!"