Relationships Create an Unfair Advantage in Sales

There are reasons that companies have their purchasing departments lead the selection of their strategic partners. There are reasons that arm’s length buying processes exist. The goal is an objective decision as to who their partners will be based on certain criteria decided beforehand. Why do they seek to prevent salespeople from developing a relationship, you ask? Why do they want an objective decision?

The reason these buying processes exist is that people inside companies believe that relationships create an unfair advantage.

I know you’ve heard that relationship selling was dead. You’ve heard that economic value is what’s important now, and it is important, but it’s not the only thing that makes up commercial relationships. A good bit about preference is the decision as to with who your dream client wants to work, who they want on their team.

  • If relationships were dead, you wouldn’t feel the way you do when you get an RFP, and you wouldn’t wish you had a relationship that would tip the balance in your favor. You believe that a relationship would give you the advantage of mindshare and the advantage of preference. You might also have more information, things that could help you know how to influence others by making sure you addressed their needs.
  • If relationships were dead, you wouldn’t be worried when your longest relationship in your largest and most loyal client leaves the company. You also wouldn’t worry when the lead person on a deal you are working quits the week before you are supposed to sign a contract. The reason you worry when your sponsor leaves is that you know that relationship protects you from the risk of being competitively displaced.

All said, there is nothing more likely to produce better results faster than people who work well together and who are on the same page. Transacting lowers prices, not the costs that are increased by transactional relationships.

If you want an unfair advantage, you need to work on developing relationships. If you want to stack the deck in your favor, relationships create preference. Relationships are not dead, especially not as it pertains to sales, selling, and business more generally. This means you need to be in front of opportunities, and you need to wire the building.

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