Transactional Selling or Relationship Selling

As I was preparing for my Live Virtual Training classes on Relationship Selling Before & After the Sale, I came across an article that really bothered me. Inside of this article the author lists industries that are relationship based and industries transactional. To my surprise and disappointment for that matter, the automotive sales industry was listed as transactional based. I was shocked!

Transactional selling is defined as the quick exchange of a product or service for money that typically doesn’t entail a personalized experience. This is typically for low-cost, commoditized products, where it doesn’t make sense for the sales representative to invest in getting to know their buyers.  

At first, I was shocked because automobiles are not commoditized products. In most peoples lives, their vehicle is the second biggest purchasing decision they ever make, if not the first. This automobile purchase is not only the first or second biggest purchasing decision people make, but also one that most customer’s will be asked to commit to making payments on for 3 to 7 years after they are asked to make the decision.

How can such a huge buying decision be lumped in with the equivalent of buying groceries?

Then the more I thought about this, I was shocked again. This is how salespeople are viewed in our industry and as I asked myself, ‘why,’ I took in the realization, we are thought of this way because this is how most salespeople treat their customers. This realization turned my shock into sadness. This saddens me because as salespeople we brought these views upon ourselves.

Research shows:

  • Most salespeople NEVER investigate into their customer’s wants and needs
  • Most salespeople NEVER give a presentation/demonstration based upon those wants and needs
  • Most salespeople NEVER contact their customer after purchase
  • Most salespeople NEVER get a referral from their customers
  • Most salespeople NEVER get a chance to sell their customers another vehicle

Where is the relationship in these statistics?

I believe that all transactions should be Relationship based! All sales should be Relationship Sales.

Think about a trip to the grocery store. The checkout clerk has no incentive to build a relationship with a customer. It makes no difference in their paycheck if you as a customer continue to shop there or not. However, that is the wrong way of thinking. If this checkout clerk continues to irritate customers, eventually people will stop shopping at this store and take their business elsewhere. If other checkout clerks mimic this behavior, more and more customers will defect. Therefore, causing the store to lose valuable business, and eventually if the store losses enough customers, it will go out of business and the checkout clerk who did not have an incentive to build a relationship with their customers will be looking for a new job.

However, the converse to this story is also true. If that checkout makes it their responsibility to build relationships with their customers, soon that customer will shop at this store more often and spend more money there. They will tell their friends and neighbors to shop there. The business will thrive, make more money and reward the employees who made this happen with higher wages and better benefits.

Now, think about this scenario for the customer’s perspective. You have two choices when you are at this grocery store:

  1. A shorter line with a clerk that has never engaged you despite going through their checkout line on several occasions and they have never help you bag your groceries. Additionally, this checkout line does not have a bagger.
  2. A slightly longer line, with a clerk that continually greets you by name, genuinely ask how you are doing, shows you additionally benefits of shopping there, and they always help you bag your groceries. This line does not have a bagger either.

Which do you choose?

I know that I would prefer to wait a little while longer to ensure a pleasant experience. One that I could feel good about. And if you prefer the first one, you might want to look at your beliefs in exceptional customer service, otherwise known as building a relationship.

If a grocery store clerk can influence customers to comeback time and time again with small commodity type transactions, what influence can you have if you create a relationship with your customers when you are talking about the first or second biggest buying decision a person will make.

If you don’t believe that exception service has value, you will NEVER be able to deliver it to your customer, and in turn they will look for a relationship elsewhere.



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