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Better Business Idea # 27

Courtship And The Sales Process

© 1999 by Michael C. Gray

July 28, 1999


Many people don’t appreciate that the sales process involves establishing a relationship that is very much like courtship.

For a small-ticket transaction, this isn’t so important, but to get the customer to return to the store again and again, it is critically important. For long-term service providers, such as for doctors, dentists, lawyers and accountants, relationship is almost everything. That’s why they rely so heavily on referrals.

When a fellow is courting the "right kind" of girl, he doesn’t expect a passionate kiss on the first date. When the fellow first meets a girl he is interested in, even holding hands is an important step that is postponed until an "understanding" of mutual attraction and trust is established. Certainly proposing marriage on a first date is unthinkable. There must be an investment of time and relationship nurturing through a series of steps of seriousness leading to the marriage proposal.

Yet some salespeople and "professionals" expect the customer to make a long-term commitment based on a brief meeting.

Some direct marketing processes are designed to have the customer go through a series of "hoops" before personally meeting with the salesperson or professional. Going through the sequence predisposes the customer to doing business, because the customer is coming to the business to solve a need. In the customer’s eyes, he or she is initiating the action. The salesperson or professional becomes a "welcome guest" instead of an "unwelcome pest."

The customer responds to a lead generation advertisement. He or she receives some information and is invited to take another action. A series of follow up letters are sent. Each step should provide more information and lead the customer further along the ownership/relationship path.

Understand your customer’s human needs, nurture your relationships with them, be patient, and you’ll develop customers for life. And customers for life are your most valuable business asset. They are the foundation of a sales career and business success.

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For professional services, the sales process is a lot like courtship. Find out how to win clients with a soft sell.


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Michael Gray, CPA
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