“We Want To Be Your Partner!” Another Closing Technique?


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Partnering has been in vogue for the past few years. It seems as though every sales person wants to “partner” with their customers. Marketers talk about partnering, consultants want to be everyone’s partner.

Whatever happened to valued vendor-customer relationships? Whatever happened to “I want to provide you a quality solution, that fulfills all your requirements, at a fair price, with great customer service.”

What about the customer who just wants a dependable supplier that meets their commitments?

Somehow just selling to a customer who is buying is no longer sufficient. We have to talk about a much deeper form of relationship. We now want to become everyone’s partner.

Partnering is much different than being a reliable, customer focused supplier. Partnering mandates a much higher level of relationship between each party. Implicit in the relationship is a higher degree of interdependence. Partnering relationships require great alignment in vision and values between partners. Partnering requires sharing resources, risks, and rewards between each party. Partnering usually involves many relationships across organizations — from executives sponsoring the relationship and driving governance, down through deep relationships between people working together on a day to day basis. Partnering requires an investment of people, resources, and money by each party. Partnering usually has project plans, commitments, milestones, and all sorts of things the parties have to execute over time. Partnering is rarely about a transaction, but about attaining shared goals and results over a longer period of time.

Partnerships are tough. Over 70% of them fail to achieve their objectives. However successful partnerships can be very powerful for each party, enabling them to accomplish things they could not do separately.

Because of the level of resources, investments, time and commitment it takes, no company can afford to partner with all of their customers or suppliers. In reality organizations can only afford to partner with a very small number. Companies can’t afford to, and don’t want to partner with all their vendors and suppliers. They may not care to partner with any of them–but they do want dependable and quality suppliers.

Partnering involves a lot from each party, which is why I always challenge sales people embarking on a “partnership” sales strategy. Too often, when I ask the sales person suggesting partnering, “Why do you want to partner with your customer,” the response is, “I want to use it to help get an order!”

I usually respond, “Does your customer want a partnership or a good supplier?” Usually I get one of two responses, most often it’s a sales person looking at me cross-eyed, “You just don’t get it. It’s what we always offer!” The other variant is, “No they just want to buy a product, but we are going to say we have a partnership to differentiate ourselves.” (This strategy confuse3s me because the competitor is also offering a partnership……)

Usually, I just give up there, but sometimes a morbid curiosity causes me to pursue my line of questioning, I may ask, “What will you be doing differently with the customer who you offer a partnership to?” The response is, “We’ll treat them like a valued customer!”

Most sales people really don’t understand partnerships and partnering. Use of the partnering strategy seems to be no more than another closing technique. I guess if neither the assumptive or puppy dog closes work, the sales person might consider the “partnering” close.

There’s a problem with the “partnering” close—most buyers I’ve spoken to realize it is nothing more than a closing technique. They understand what partnering is (at least to a better degree than the sales person does.). Most know when they are looking for a partnering relationship–and their partnering process is different from their buying process. Too many customers just want a reliable supplier, not a partnership.

In the end most customers I interview think the partnering close is a hollow commitment. It’s just another set of fancy words sales people use, with little understanding of the implications of partnering.

I wonder what would happen if we just closed on , “We want to demonstrate that we can be your highest performing supplier, will you give us that opportunity?”

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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