mind your business: Gaining Market Share in a Difficult Economy:
In the B2B world, the relationship between the customer and the vendor—and more specifically—the vendor's salesperson, can be of utmost importance.
It doesn't take long in the business to understand that if customers dislike you, they are rarely going to meet with you. And if they do know you and trust you, they are more likely to do business with you.
Creating positive business relationships with all of your customers and prospects is, then, a fundamental step in the path toward success for any B2B salesperson.
Having said that, the existence of positive business relationships is one of the primary hindrances to success for the typical field salesperson. That may seem like a contradiction, but let's dissect how this works.
The typical field salesperson, when presented with a sales territory, naturally attempts to see as many people as possible, and sets about building relationships with some of them. Since he or she typically has more accounts than can effectively be handled, he or she tends to spend time with those with whom there is some affinity.
Over a few years, these relationships become solidified, and the salesperson is content to work with that set of people with whom he or she gets along. Given the choice of making a cold call on a prospect and visiting an existing relationship, the natural inclination is to go where it is easiest. Relationships coalesce, and the salesperson develops routines based on them.
For years, this mode of operation was acceptable. In a growing economy, most of the customers grew as well, and all the salesperson had to do was show up and he or she would expect a certain percentage of the business. Life was good, and the job was easy.
Now, however, most of the customers aren't growing, and most sales territories are down. Many of those same customers are struggling to stay profitable. The salesperson's market, defined as the people with whom he or she has positive business relationships, has shrunk. In many sales territories, if the sales territory is going to grow, or at least gain market share, the salesperson has to look outside his or her current relationships.