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Selling is all About the Relationship…

By Percy Chong, 16th April 2014

There is no way ASG can avoid not sharing about a principle that is central in the Asian selling approach…Relationship or 關係.

Relationship is in everything that an Asian does. Before we embark on any new enterprise, we almost always look within our network of contacts for individuals who we can trust for collaboration. Only when this route is exhausted, would we consider other non-network or non-referral based approach to identifying our partners. We would rather for a family of friend to benefit than for a stranger to “earn”. Such is the Asian values.

“Cold calls”or the seeking of external, professional help is rarely our preferred method of approach. Relations and the comforting thought of trust that is associated with our links, sometimes takes precedence over the competence factor. Most are willing to accept some minor “inconvenience” over the familiarity and perceived trust that the relationship brings. Hence, we are usually more personal than objective in such respect. Once present, terms and conditions to the sale or business are often bypassed over a stiff drink or verbal commitment.

We are therefore more likely to oblige or be obligated to support our family or friends who have approach us for any sales or business. Selling by obligation as a technique tends to be more effective with Asians than other races.

Understanding the Asian mindset will give the would-be salesperson an edge to closing his sales with them. In order to win them over, you will need to build a strong relationship with them first; no business is discussed until they “buy” you. And that can take a while.

In the situation where you are able to leverage on your relationship, you are encourage to pick-up these “low hanging fruits” that we often identify as our “Natural” market.

Let’s take a closer look into the selling process to convince you of the merits of the “Natural” market.

When selling to the “Cold” market

Selling is a two-stage process when prospecting in the “Cold” market. The salesperson needs to:
  1. First convince the prospect of you;
  2. Then convince the prospect about the product or the sale.
So essentially there is a lot of convincing to be done. The salesperson need to first convince the prospect of his qualities, ie. Competence, professionalism and trustworthiness, during the limited time when meeting with him…why is he the preferred one?

And even after credibility has been established, the salesperson still needs to convince the prospect of the benefits that the product or the sale would bring…why they need to buy?

Each stage in itself is not easy and requires different skills to make happen.
When selling to the “Natural” market

The two-stage selling process is immediately reduced to one. Rapport and trust is usually present in the prospects from the “Natural” market. Even when the salesperson is referred, the trust is automatically conferred.

When trust is no longer an issue, the salesperson only need to focus on convincing the prospect on the benefits of the product, or the sale. And because trust is present, the prospect again is more receptive to the benefits that the “trusted” salesperson is endorsing.

Sometimes, the sale is even done without the need for stage two (ie.  Convincing the need for the product) of the selling process. And the handshake or verbal commitment is enough to secure the sale.

With obvious advantage to prospecting in the “Natural” market, you need to strategise to include it in as part of your operational methods. However, you need to be aware that not all prospects from the “Natural” market are partial towards you. Some of them are objective and will not offer up any advantage on account of the relationship unless there are real benefits in the purchase. Nonetheless, you should still be able to secure an audience with them to make your pitch.

With such strong support, it is only right that you do not abuse the relationship. This implied trust is no substitute for the lack of competence or professionalism. And it is certainly not an excuse for shabby and sub-standard work to your loyal supporters. Continue to invest in your professional development to merit their confidence.

So begin to tap on your existing relationship and build new ones to sell through your relationships.
Article contributed by Percy Chong (through Asian Sales Guru)
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