This is the third in a three part series dedicated to helping business owners refine their sales strategy. This article focuses on the importance of taking a long-term view of the sales process. 

For many people, “salesman” has become a dirty word. Telemarketers, infomercials, and obnoxious salespeople at the mall have given the profession a black eye. And it’s because few people respond positively to being pressured.

For a business owner who is attempting to provide exceptional value to his customers (which you all should be!), a high-pressure, short-term approach to sales is a losing proposition. Today’s customers don’t want to be aggressively sold to, and they certainly don’t want to feel pressured to act before they are ready. I understand the pressure that many of you may be facing to generate cash flow, but applying pressure on your customers and prospects is a losing strategy.

Instead, your sales approach should focus on highlighting the value your company offers and on the benefits that your products or services provide. Rather than trying to close the sale immediately, the emphasis should be on building trust and laying the groundwork for a long and mutually beneficial relationship.

Now don’t misunderstand: if a prospect is ready to make a purchase immediately, by all means close the deal. And there is nothing wrong with creating a sense of urgency. But do so in a way that makes it clear that your company is interested in more than just a quick buck.

On the other hand, when a prospect indicates that he is simply not ready to purchase, don’t pressure him. Most of the time, the pressure won’t work. And even when it does, your new customer is left with a bad taste in his mouth. Instead of trying to push the sale, train your sales team to make sure that the prospect thoroughly understands the value you offer. Make sure that, when he is finally ready to purchase, he remembers the great experience he had with your team as well as the value you provide.

The goal of your sales team shouldn’t be to sell as much product as they possibly can in the short term. The goal should be to build trust and foster relationships, while emphasizing the unique value offered by your company. This approach may not maximize immediate sales, but it will create opportunities for profitable relationships that last for years or even decades.

What is your approach to “pressure selling?” Has your philosophy changed over the years? Why or why not?