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Every sales call should have an objective. Why? Meeting your objective is the only way –short of an order–to know your sales call is a success. Do you think it’s a valid sales call objective to build the customer relationship? I don’t. Here’s why.

What is the sales call objective? You should leave every sales call with more than you had when you started the meeting, something that advances your sales process. You could get more information, get agreement for a product trial, or ask and get a referral. These are all valid sales objectives. Is feeling good about the business relationship more than you had? Maybe. Does it advance your sales process? No, it doesn’t.

Why the confusion? Too many salespeople misunderstand the true purpose of what they’re doing when they sell. The purpose of sales is to sell something for which the customer agrees to buy and pay you money.

What confuses some salespeople is that the relationship is what happens as a result of an effective sales strategy. Customers like it when they make great buying decisions. It’s good for them when you bring value to them and their businesses. Because of the work you do they also tend to like you. The relationship develops because you’ve first done a good job of selling.

Is a business relationship important? If building a relationship isn’t the objective of selling, then does it have a role in selling? Of course it does. I’m not minimizing the customer relationship in the sales process or your successful selling. It does come in handy for selling. When you do build a strong relationship with customers you will shorten your sales cycle because when customers trust and like you they can decide to buy faster. You’ll also sell more because customers choose you over your competition. They also tend to stay with you over any competitors when they like you.

Your sales results will improve when you focus on selling instead of building the relationship. Why? It’s like the guy who breaks up with his girlfriend and says, “I just want to be friends.” She replies, “Forget it. I have plenty of friends.” So do your customers. They aren’t looking for more friends. They are looking for more business. If the friendship grows from that, fine. But you’re missing the point of business if that’s what you are selling.

About Maura Schreier-Fleming

Maura Schreier-Fleming is president of Best@Sellinga sales training and sales consulting company. She works with business and sales professionals to increase sales and earn larger profits. She is the author of Real-World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results and Monday Morning Sales Tips. Maura focuses on sales strategies and tactics that lead to better sales results. She speaks internationally on influence, selling skills, and strategic selling at trade association and sales meetings, demonstrating how her principles can be applied to get results. She successfully worked for over 20 years in the male-dominated oil industry with two major corporations, beginning at Mobil Oil and ending at Chevron Corp. She was Mobil Oil’s first female lubrication engineer in the U.S. and was one of Chevron’s top five salespeople in the U.S. having sold over $9 million annually. Maura writes several columns to share her sales philosophies. She's been quoted in the New York Times, Selling Power, and Entrepreneur.