The writer Ted Wallin is Business Director at Gambit. This column is published in English and Swedish.
For most of my career, I have worked with B2B sales in various forms. For me, like many others, sales isn’t just a career choice but a passion based on a number of different factors.
One of the exciting things about sales is that you often get to meet interesting people. According to a typical sales process, some of these meetings lead to business, but what happens after that? Well, in a greatly simplified and caricatured reality, we can divide the deal that was born into two different categories; the transaction-based and the relationship-based world.
In the transaction-based world, the deal taking place is a transaction between a buyer or customer and a seller or supplier. The transaction is made because the seller offers a product or service at a value that corresponds to the agreed amount.
Both parties only look after their own best interests to benefit the most from the transaction. It’s the seller’s problem if he trades the item at a too low price, or has delivery problems. The buyer’s only obligation is to settle the agreed amount. And what about the seller? Well, the seller is rarely seen anymore once the transaction has been completed.
However, in the relationship-based world a business relationship has been established long before the customer and the supplier have made a deal. Both parties are interested in what the other has to offer and they seek value together through a collaboration. Sometimes the collaboration leads to one, but often to several actual deals.
Sales are de facto seen as a process for establishing a relationship. It’s long-term and is about earning trust – not just exchanging a product or service for payment! The seller does not walk out the door as soon as he has the customer’s signature on the contract, but he realizes that the relationship has suddenly become a bit more serious. Now it’s important to deliver and to at least meet the customer’s expectations – preferably exceed them!
The first deal is just the beginning of something new. Added value is created together by exchanging ideas, challenging and sparring each other in addition to the actual achievement. The success of one party leads to success for the other as well. The customer knows that active input is needed also from his side for the project to be successful. Both parties also understand that mistakes can happen, but it’s the way they are handled that matters in the long run.
The first deal is just the beginning of something new.
I portray this issue in black and white to get my point across. Fortunately, I feel that the majority of us in Ostrobothnia are already in the relationship-based world, but we can of course continue developing.
Strong partnerships where you are willing to open up more of the business to each other provide insights and understanding, and clearly make the collaboration more frictionless and efficient. The more we know about each other and can trust each other, the greater are the chances for success for both parties.
Those who are still in the transaction-based world don’t realize that if you treat each other with respect and show understanding, your counterparty will make an ever greater effort for you. As a supplier, you want to do your very best for a customer who shows his appreciation.
Let’s together move towards a world that is even more relationship-based. A smaller region like ours has everything to gain from it as we can create long-term relationships in a natural way. We can take advantage of this in the competition with larger metropolises!