Have you ever heard the song, 'What's it all about Alfie?' and perhaps pondered the words or the meaning of this famous song of the 60s?

The composers, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, were posing a challenge to their listening audience to look at the changes of the times and ask themselves major questions about their lives and how they felt about love.

Of course, their song did not challenge any specific person by the name of Alfie, but was directed to the general public.

The audience of millions that Hal and Burt reached through this simple song sung by Dionne Warwick and Cher, became a hit movie starring Michael Kane and a remake staring Jude Law decades later with new songs by Rolling Stones lead singer, Mick Jagger.

My question to you in this article is along the same lines of thinking, as it relates to your customer relations and selling as a part of your business.

Long Term vs Short Term Client Love

What is more important today in your business plan and love plan with your clients?

Is it maintaining good, solid long-term client relationships or adding new business through effective, yet low key non-manipulative selling methods?

Notice I said "low key" selling methods, not high pressure?

In the new arena of consultative sales, the fast-talking, slick sales person has been replaced by sales people who nurture, consult, network and counsel, yet still sell.

That is where the competency of what one is doing and the confidence to do it must blend together quickly for any new representative in a firm to grow in their role. Very quickly.

Here is the old $64,000 question revised for the times:

What is the right balance between maintaining great relationships in our business dealings, and at the same time, adding new business to the bottom line?

In researching up-to-date material for this article, I came across a number of books whose authors, I feel, have come up with a good balance between these two areas of loyalty and new business. With both of them in check, new profits and sustainable growth occurs that builds a business and ultimately, brings profits to owners and/or shareholders.

The authors are all internationally recognised speakers of which two are American and two Australian.

Low Profile Selling Comes of Age

Tom Hopkins, the 35-year veteran of selling skills training and the author of at least seven best selling books, puts it very simply:

"Long term, 'people must like you and trust you' in order to do business with you.

You can earn a living making one off sales but the key to greatness in selling lies in long-term relationships. This, backed with excellent service and being an effective communicator to find out the underlying needs of your customers or clients."

One of Tom's latest books is called "Low Profile Selling...Act like a Lamb, Sell like a Lion". It's a great title and has good references to current trends amongst the highest paid professionals in the world of sales.

In his book, Tom says "low profile selling" can be a difficult concept to grasp because most people's impression of selling is one of being loud, aggressive, pushy and obnoxious " the lion in the jungle approach!

That's why so many people reject sales training. They don't want to learn to be anything like the king of the sales jungle.

Likely another reason why so many women are successful in sales today.

They are able to retain their feminine nature and qualities (the lamb approach) without selling out and are also very effective in listening to the client which helps to gain trust and build credibility before suggesting methods in solving solutions with the needs of the client being met.

This and many other reasons can be why the dominance of men in sales forces around the world has dropped from nearly 100% in the 1950's to estimates in some markets that the balance between men and women in sales today is near even.

Why is this?

As an analogy, women are great in both acting like lambs taking a more gentle and soft approach, yet no less outcome oriented.

They can also sell like lions and often without all the noise like the king of the jungle or perhaps the pounding of the chest like King Kong, lord of the apes.

Stop Selling - Start Partnering

American author of "The One Minute Salesperson", Larry Wilson, has recently penned a book entitled, "Stop Selling... Start Partnering".

In his book, Larry explores and then confirms the new thinking about finding and keeping customers and clients for the long term. If you can get this book from your favourite bookstore, it is an excellent read on global trends on customer loyalty and service.

If you can't find that, a copy of Australian author and Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), Keith Abrahams' latest book, audio and video series, "Creating Loyal Profitable Customers" is a must for any company.

This will awaken you to at least 47 different ways to turn your customers into passionate purchasers of your products and services.

Another Australian book entitled, "What's Ethical About Selling?" is authored by CSP, David Penglase, who also holds an MBA in the area of ethics.

David explores the very nature of how anyone can succeed in sales and still maintain their integrity, ethics and values while creating value and service for their clients.

A Final Word

All of these experts suggest a simple yet pro found truth:

By building long-term relationships based on integrity and value combined with solid human relations and servicing skills, you will be able to answer the question posed in the song, "What's it all about Alfie?", because you will know from your own discoveries in this journey.

About the writer / author

Rob Salisbury, B. Com, CSP has addressed over 450 Australian companies and over 2000 teams / events in the U.S. New Zealand, Singapore and SE Asia over the last 20 years.

Rob served as 2001 to 2003 President of the NSW National Speakers Association and five years as a Director on the Australian National Speakers Board. An industry recognised sales and marketing strategist, he was tranferred from sunny Scottsdale, Arizona in 1997 to Sydney Australia.

For more information, contact Rob in Australia at 0412 414 835 or our web site at www.strategicresources.com.au or

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