While marketing deals with markets of many, selling will always be about markets of one. So how do you make your customers love you?

Despite the advances in technology and the rise of the internet, customers still want personal and single contact satisfaction. Contrary to some pundits who believe the role of salespeople is becoming obsolete with the proliferation of internet and mobile technology, effective sales professionals and a personal approach to selling remains important to successful businesses.

Smart salespeople are offloading functional and transactional activities to better concentrate on the personal and complex aspects of selling, including understanding the customer’s business and providing more personalised service that is customized to their specific priorities and produces results. Our client surveys show customers who know their salesperson by name are 90% more likely to stay loyal!

Being personal is more than just being ‘nice’ or friendly. Customers do like ‘nice’ but they do not buy solely on how likeable you are. They want more. Good salespeople recognise that customers buy from people they trust and that trust supersedes like. Sure it helps to be likable but a buyer is looking for someone they can trust and work with over time.

If you think it’s a simple walk in, present your product and walk away… think again. Companies with a purely transactional ‘walk-in-walk-out’ mindset are finding it harder to sell and stay in business. In fact, it is predicted that over the next few years the transactional field sales forces will become obsolete as they become too expensive to maintain and offer no value to the customers they call on.

Companies with large turnover of sales staff or salespeople with short tenures are in a difficult position to achieve customer familiarity and loyalty. One example is the business banking sector, especially in the SME business space. Here, there seems to be a revolving door policy when it comes to business bankers and relationship managers.  The moment you think you have secured a good business banker, they’re gone and replaced with a new one and you find yourself starting over, explaining your business all over again. This presents a real problem for SMEs, especially in big cities. We hear many complaints from SME business owners about their frustration at the lack of care or interest shown by business banking. The only exception we can see in this are the business bankers living and working in regional and rural Australia. These people seem to be more dedicated and committed. Their jobs are entwined with their lifestyle choice and they are genuinely part of the communities they work with. Their relationships extend beyond their jobs and they ‘get personal’ with the people they service.

By contrast business bankers in the capital cities are dime a dozen and don’t have to have interest in you because they can disappear into the crowd never really having to practice what they preach. In short big city business banking is impersonal and simply not as effective – where is the love. This lack of a personal approach means city-based SMEs are missing out on real relationships of value and banks and the like are missing out on good business revenue over the long term.

Many businesses are missing the point that the customer wants to work with someone who is interested in their business and themselves and will add tangible value to over time. Think of the relationship most SME business owners have with their accountants.  If they (the accountant) is any good these relationships are very long standing and the level of trust and respect gained is almost irreplaceable. With the pursuit of ‘profit only’ strategies many businesses are missing out on real revenue and margin growth. It was reported recently in the press that those businesses who function with a higher purpose beyond profit are 5-10 times more successful (profitability, loyalty, revenue, staff and customer retention) than those businesses whose only focus is a profit motive.

If you want your customer to starting loving you, you need to start interacting strategically with them by being interested in their wellbeing, listening to them and understanding their priorities, dreams, goals and desires whereby you can determine if you can help them by offering beneficial solutions based on value and working with them into the future. No transactional mentality here.

Looking at what is now required of almost every sales person, almost every business is now in the service industry. Consultants, medical practitioners, professional services firms, the list is endless. Any business that sells its expertise and time knows the importance of working to maintain healthy relationships with their clients because if they don’t bill anything they don’t earn anything.

Product businesses, if they are to maintain their margins and build value in their client relationships beyond the product need to transition themselves and their sales teams into a ‘service business’ mindset and get personal.

Getting personal is more than just showing up and being pleasant. ‘Getting personal’ is about being personable, substantial, and authentic and combing these traits with your knowledge, experience, skills, creative problem solving and business acumen. To ‘get personal’, you need to work with your client with the intention of delivering results and caring about the outcome. Buy into the possibility of making a difference to your clients’ businesses and personal lives and great things can happen. Getting your customers to love you is not some soppy, ‘wet’ idea, it’s what’s at the heart of all genuine relationships.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.


Sue Barrett
BY Sue Barrett ON 4 May 2012
Sue Barrett is one of the leading female voices commenting on sales today. An experienced business speaker and adviser, facilitator, sales coach, training provider and entrepreneur and founder of Barrett Consulting, which provides sales assessments, sales consulting, sales coaching and sales training programs.

Visit Barrett Consulting's website,
Facebook page, or follow @SueBarrett on Twitter.