This week I am attending a golf outing hosted by one of my customers and I will be golfing not only with them but also with their customers as well as architects who are responsible for determining the specifications upon which the business projects are based. The idea is not to compete in golf. At least half of us are in fact terrible golfers. Yet we will all have fun and at the end of the day new relationships will be formed. Existing ones will also be strengthened. The main purpose is to get away from the office together to form and strengthen foundations for future business which will benefit all attendees. So, whether it is golf, fishing or hunting, getting out with customers is an extremely important part of the sales process and should not be underrated, which often happens in tough economic times.

Does your company invest in entertaining customers and prospects? Indeed, some owners and CEOs think that it is an extravagance. They feel that it is warranted only if you have had a fantastic year. Only then is it is time to break out the golf clubs and invite customers out to show one’s appreciation. Yet others believe that investing in relationship building is even more important in times of lackluster sales. Whatever the case, getting away from the office together and taking the pressure away from the sales situation can yield huge benefits for all involved.

Sustainable sales growth is built on a foundation of strong customer relationships, and a great way to build these relationships with customers is by doing something fun with them outside of the office. Getting together with customers and prospects in a non-business setting can offer huge rewards. Getting out and having fun with customers allows them to see the non-business side of you. Common ground is discovered by both parties. It is assuring to them and also to you to learn more about each other … like you both fear the water on the 8th hole! Talking about things other than business allows you to learn more about each other and permits vendor and customer to both see the human side of each other. Then, later when business resumes, the negotiation goes smoother because each side has learned to become more open with each other, and both sides feel they can talk more freely. Also both sides are more likely to view the negotiation from the other side’s perspective! The net result is that barriers have been lowered and both sides are more open and honest.

So when the fun is over and we all get back to business, it is more likely that parties on both sides of the table will approach negotiation with more of a win-win mentality in mind as opposed to a win-lose attitude. When both sides seek a win-win, it is much more likely that a deal will be struck, and if not, then the reason is because it wasn’t good for both parties in the first place.

On that note, here’s hoping that I “hit ‘em straight!”

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