Why Transactions are Just the Beginning of the Sales Process


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The handshake isn't the close of the sale; it's the beginning of the relationship. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
The handshake isn’t the close of the sale; it’s the beginning of the relationship. Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
Not long ago, effective B2B sales meant flights across the globe, firm handshakes, and elegant dinners. Today, that brand of sales sounds more like a scene straight out of Mad Men. While there is still a place for in-person visits and shared meals in the 2015 world of B2B sales, a salesperson’s number one job is no longer to sell you—it’s to make sure you get real value out of your purchase.

In fact, making the sale is really just the first step in the sales process. Between social media, your company’s website, and a simple Google search, it’s not difficult for consumers to study up on an organization and its offerings. This means that when they come to you, there’s a good chance they’ve become so well-informed that they have already virtually sold themselves. They know what they are looking to get out of your product and how you stack up against the competition; they will not hesitate to hold your feet to the fire to make you deliver. When you are dealing with an educated customer who purchases your wares with minimal support up to that point, they will undoubtedly expect the utility of their purchase to match their perception from the outset. Work with these customers after the sale to ensure they are receiving all they can from your product. They already know what your wares can do, but it’s incumbent upon you to make sure they are receiving the value they expected.

There’s a reason you should be hyper-aware of these expectations and prepared to meet them. B2B sales today are short-term and customers value flexibility. They require the ability to pivot on a dime should their needs change or your product underperform. If you’re selling software, chances are it’s subscription-based or you’re planning to put out a new version in short order. If that’s the case, it’s the renewals that will keep you in business, not just a steady flow of new customer sign-ups. Customers may have a tremendous understanding of what your product is capable of, but if you aren’t there to help them put that value to use in real world situations, you might as well have not made the sale at all.

Perhaps the most compelling argument for treating an initial transaction like the beginning of the sale—as opposed to its conclusion—is the consequence of a successful sale gone bad at a later date. Thanks to a bevy of social media platforms and interactive websites, consumers have never been in a stronger position to voice their opinions. And nothing motivates people more to share their views than a bad experience. In this scenario, you aren’t losing out on a single sale. Instead, the fallout can be exponentially more impactful. The same websites and reviews that caused this person to purchase your product in the first place can be the very platforms they use to dissuade countless future sales from similar prospective customers.

However, the inverse is equally as powerful and a much more exciting prospect to consider. If you approach the sale as the beginning of a long-term customer relationship rather than the end of your business together, you can build a positive reputation for yourself, your product, and your brand in the market that will pay dividends in the form of future sales. Your current customers will make additional purchases and renew their subscriptions while simultaneously serving as your best salespeople, spreading the word about your superior product and reaching your target audience through word of mouth endorsements—affirmation you would never be able to receive through traditional sales strategies.

Hampus Jakobsson
Hampus is the CEO of Brisk, which finds the fastest paths to sales for companies like like Evernote, Hootsuite and Zendesk. In 2002, he co-founded pioneering mobile UI firm The Astonishing Tribe, which was acquired by Blackberry in 2010 for $150m and is an angel investor in over 40 startups. Efficiency-driven engineer turned self-taught sales savant, Hampus is happiest when thinking deep and dark thoughts about the future of tech.


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