Everyone “Sells” When It Comes to Building Customer Relationships

In August 2015, Don Buttrey, owner of Sales Professional Training, Inc., based in Ohio, provided an intensive training session for Daman Products’ employees focused on helping them learn the fundamental skills to help everyone be able to sell. 

Those present in these one-day sessions were Daman team members representing sales, distributor services, production, IT, quality and human resources.

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Buttrey’s fundamental lesson is that customers do not buy products. Rather they invest in building relationships with people. Buttrey, who works with distributors and sales-driven organizations within the fluid power industry, finds that manufacturers are rarely focused on continuous improvement in sales and customer service. Organizations that are great at manufacturing and engineering naturally become internally focused. It is difficult for them to shift their everyday actions to focus solely on activities that achieve stronger customer relationships — in addition to delivering product outcomes. And, he admits, it is more difficult than it sounds.

Down to every detail, Daman’s distributor services and regional sales teams are collaborating to achieve continuous improvement in customer relationships. The vital piece for success is already in place, in that there are Daman employees working with customers day in and day out on sales, designs and troubleshooting. Additionally, the Daman Creative Team, which consists of all departments throughout the organization, is surveying customers monthly about their problems and their ideas for new product solutions. These interactions are fundamental to Daman’s continuous improvement culture.

This training took Daman team members to the next step by discussing how each department’s relationships are impacting customer relationships even more than those of the sales representatives who are intended to bring in the first order. Thus, the selling opportunities to gain customer loyalty and build deeper relationships require the following approaches and methods by everyone in the organization:

  1. Focus on relationship building
  2. Assess your communication skills
  3. Be conscious of verbal and non-verbal expression and tone
  4. Understand how internal filters can hinder communication
  5. Be aware of how you come across to others
  6. Adjust and use different approaches for different types of people
  7. Standardize a process to prepare and execute expected customer interactions

The balance of time was spent discussing the S.E.L.L. process defining the steps: Start, Evaluate, Leverage and Lock. This simple process allows everyone in the company to be able to make a proactive customer communication – even in the cases of negative news.

The sales process gives a framework to prepare and execute highly effective interactions. This allows fine tuning your offense, while handling issues before they become negative. Similarly, the same process can be used on defense, either on the spot or after the fact. The tendency for detail-oriented people is to think they need to explain, clarify or defend. Having to react to a situation (such as answering why prices are higher than expected) can be difficult to handle on the spot.

In the two-day training session, Buttrey taught how setting the stage requires first identifying key interaction points. Throughout the total customer experience there are numerous interaction points that can each greatly impact customer satisfaction because they can be controlled.  Changes in the smallest areas can have a dramatic impact to create deeper customer relationships.

The Daman team documented their sales process and the bottlenecks that occur at interaction points and whether they were proactive or reactive circumstances. Then, they took each offensive or defensive circumstance and completed a script for a potential dialog.  They identified the benefit, the leverage point and what needs to happen to lock in action based on the desired outcome.

We encourage you to do the same and have your team continue to work on these processes as part of your focus on being sales- and market-oriented throughout your organization. 

Buttrey states, “Daman has a great name. I always hear good things about this company. It is great to see that they are not resting on their laurels. They are constantly trying to improve, and this training is another way in which they are doing it. They are becoming more customer-oriented and more aware of the benefits of their positive interactions with Daman customers.”

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Don Buttrey’s career started in manufacturing as a grinding journeyman. He later moved up to a sales training position to distributors. Today, through his company, Sales Professional Training, Inc., he trains sales representatives for industrial distributors and manufacturer clients. While most training sessions are private, Buttrey conducts his sales seminar titled “The Four Pillars of the Sales Profession” as public events. He also teaches and presents for trade associations. Nothing engages Buttrey more than seeing others light up and hearing them say “I get it!”