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One question I’m asked often by other business development professionals is how my team manages the relational aspects of a consultative sales approach.

In the lead management and fulfillment industry, we don’t sell widgets. We offer a platform and managed services to help our partners generate sales revenues, and over time, we help them generate revenues more efficiently.  We take a consultative approach in all we do and help our partners do all the heavy lifting while navigating from strategy, to execution and beyond.

Sure, some companies can work strictly on a transactional basis — but no one expects 5-star service from a toilet paper company. In a business like ours where we work closely with businesses to hammer out goals, personalize strategy, and develop programs around their needs, it’s important to develop a relationship that leads to trust and confidence. They need to know that we have their best interests in mind, understand their company and are aligned with their goals and objectives.

One encounter like this happened at my nephew’s wedding earlier this year. I was visiting with one of the groomsmen whom I’ve known since he was 5. I asked what he’d been up to, and he shared with me the name of the company he worked for. My heart skipped a beat — I’d been trying to call on that company for several months and had been unable to make a connection there.

I asked how he liked the organization. The young man had nothing but positive things to say. He loved the people, the benefits, his role, and so forth.

When I got back from the wedding, I started thinking about how great it was that my nephew’s friend had landed at such a wonderful organization. I looked at the company’s website again, looking for more positive things about his employer. Buried on their site, I found a section dedicated to the many industry awards they’d received — several of them are prestigious. I decided to call a leader of the company one more time. He didn’t respond, so I sent him an email.

In the message, I shared the glowing review of his company from my nephew’s friend. I mentioned how impressive it was to see a young employee so excited about his job, and that they obviously were doing something right based on their many awards. I ended the email with a kudos and encouragement to keep up the good work.

Not 10 minutes later, I received a reply. His email included the names of two people I should contact to discuss our services. I don’t know what triggered him after my many attempts, but I know we all like to hear that we’re doing well. Part of aligning with your prospects or partners goals is to simply recognize what is important to them.

Business development teams can sometimes get a bad rap – they can become the smarmy guys and gals who swoop in, strike when you’re vulnerable, and line their pockets while pretending to care about your needs. This happens when business development teams develop a bobble head approach to sales. They perpetually nod “yes” that they can do everything you ask, then they lean over and whisper, “How are we going to do that?” In the end they end up overpromising and under-delivering.

That’s the opposite of how we work with our prospects and partners. Before we even consider talking about sales opportunities, it is important to complete a needs assessment.  This exercise allows us to better understand their unique challenges, business operations and CRM goals before we try to offer a solution that won’t help them reach their objectives.

I want our partners to know we really care about their growth, and we can design programs and services to support and complement their goals. We won’t introduce a program or solution simply because it makes us money. We won’t be successful in the long run by shortchanging or being disingenuous to our partners. And neither will your business.