On July 4th, Americans will celebrate Independence Day with picnics, fireworks and other classic summer festivities. Perhaps the global community of sales professionals should establish an “INTERdependence Day” to celebrate our interdependent relationships with customers!
The strength and quality of the customer-sales professional relationship is determined by the nature of the relationship, which can be broken down into two categories: dependent and interdependent. In a dependent relationship, one party has all the power and influence. The interdependent relationship is one in which there is a balanced distribution of power and influence. Nearly every customer-sales professional relationship begins as a dependent relationship, since the customer decides whether to grant the initial appointment, where and when the session will take place, and whether or not a purchase will be made. Over time, however, if the sales professional is cultivating the relationship, adding value to his/her customer and becoming a strategic asset, the nature of the relationship will evolve to interdependency. The more value that is added by the sales professional, the more equal the partnership becomes, and a balanced distribution of power and influence emerges in the relationship.
Beyond the fact that being on the powerless end of a dependent relationship isn’t much fun, why is this important? In the business environment, interdependent relationships are healthier, stronger, more productive and longer-lasting than dependent relationships. These are the relationships in which both parties work together for a common goal. Interdependency with our customers is essential for our long- term success, but achieving interdependent relationships requires confidence and strong sales skills.
Hallmark may not celebrate Customer INTERdependence Day, but, as sales professionals, we need to recognize its importance, continually assess the interpersonal dynamic in each customer relationship and look for opportunities to cultivate interdependency at every turn.