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More sales are made with friendship than salesmanship.


Your mom said it best. As a child, when you were fighting or arguing with a sibling or friend, your mom would say “Billy, you know better than that. Make friends with Johnny.”

Your mother never told you to use the alternative-of-choice close or the sharp-angle close on Johnny. She never said to quote Johnny with our policy. She just said, “Make friends,” and that advice may have been one of the most powerful sales and service lessons you ever got.

There’s an old business adage that says, “All things being equal, people want to do business with their friends. All things being NOT so equal, people still want to do business with their friends.”

It is estimated that more than 50 percent of sales are made and business relationships are kept because of friendships.

In the South, it’s called “the good ol’ boy network.” In the North, they say it’s who you know. It’s really just friendship selling.

If you think you’re going to make the sale because you have the best product, best service or best price, dream on. If 50 percent of sales are made on a friendly basis and you haven’t made friends with your prospects, you’re missing 50 percent of your market.

Looking to make more sales? You don’t need more techniques. You need more friends.

Think about your best customers. How did they get that way? Don’t you have great relationships with them? If you’re friends with your best customer, it will often eliminate the need for price checking, price negotiating and delivery-time demands. You can even occasionally give bad service and still keep the customer.

There’s another huge bonus to being friends – competition is eliminated. Your best competitor couldn’t blast you away from a customer who is also a friend. Most salespeople think that unless they are calling a customer to sell something, it’s a wasted call.

Nothing could be further from the truth. People don’t like to be sold. They love to buy.

How do you start? Slowly. It takes time to develop a relationship; it takes time to build a friendship.

Consider taking your customer to an event. The biggest mistake salespeople make is giving away tickets and not going with the customer. You can learn a lot by spending a few hours with the people who provide the money to your company.

Good places include a ballgame, the theater, a concert or a gallery crawl. If your customer has kids, get a few tickets to an IMAX theater. An IMAX movie is great fun, and it ain’t just for kids.

Join a business association and get involved. I belong to the Metrolina Business Council. It’s a 20-year-old group of business owners and managers whose main objective is to do business with one another and help members get business. But the MBC is not just about business; it’s about relationships and friendships.

Caution: This does not eliminate your need to be a master salesman. You must know sales techniques to capture the other half of the market. So keep reading books and listening to those tapes in your car.

Having moved from Cherry Hill, N.J., to Charlotte, N.C., has helped me understand the value of business friends. They are much easier to establish in the South, and more loyal.

I’m often in conversations where someone is lamenting the fact they can’t get into or around the so-called good ol’ boy network. That is the lamest sales excuse I’ve heard. All the salesperson is saying is that he or she has failed to bring anything of value to the table, and failed to establish a relationship or make a friend.

You can only earn a commission using a sales technique, but you can earn a fortune building friendships and relationships.

FREE GitBit… Build stronger relationships NOW. I have a 10.5 step formula that will help you understand the characteristics of relationship building. Just go to www.gitomer.com and enter the word “FORMULA” in the GitBit box.

President of Charlotte, N.C.-based Buy Gitomer, Jeffrey Gitomer gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or by e-mail at salesman@gitomer.com.

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