The Sales function, like many other areas of business, has undergone significant transition over the past few decades. Gone are the days of the wining and dining and long lunches to try to gain new customer business. The fact is, we are all too busy for that these days….we just want to understand whether or not potential suppliers can add value to our business, and if so, what value?

One thing that hasn’t changed, however, is the fact that in order to achieve any sustained level of sales success, you need to sell yourself first, and that means focusing on developing relationships with potential customers….in putting the who before the what.

Many sales people fall into the trap of focusing on the short term, chasing the weekly or monthly sales targets, and as a result, have difficulty achieving any sustained momentum. What this means is that they are always chasing “the carrot”, and have to put an enormous amount of time and energy into a multitude of small deals. And because they don’t take the time and effort to develop relationships, repeat orders are less than expected, and they leave themselves wide open to becoming easily displaced by the competition.

The alternative approach, spending time building relationships before “getting down to brass tacks”, takes time, and often means sacrificing short-term results in lieu of long-term success. But the advantages of this slower, more methodical approach can be enormous.

For starters, people buy from people, and in fact buy from people they like. So by establishing strong relationships, you put yourself in line for not only one order, buy for many repeat orders, and all from a relatively similar amount of sales effort. In addition, you also have added benefits, such as moving the focus away from price, and on to the ways in which you will provide value and support for your customer over the long-term, which often means improved margins as well.

So before you rush in to close a deal, think about your long-term sales strategy, and take some time to focus on relationship building. It can be to the gift that keeps on giving, and a profitable gift at that!