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The past few years have had our collective heads spinning – navigating an unprecedented pandemic, dealing with supply chain issues the likes of which we’ve never seen before, and trying to make sense of the real economic outlook for the musical instrument and professional audio trade. But through all this turmoil, one thing stands out in my mind, and that is the power of personal relationships. Not the “good old boy” networking or dreaded “tin cup” sales rep who pleads for a purchase order at the end of the month; I am referring to the core connection between individuals, human beings by any other name. It’s my observation that these interactions matter more than ever, and a phone call this past Saturday from a longtime industry acquaintance sealed my opinion.

Customers are Busier Than Ever, Become Their Consulting Arm

The art of selling has evolved, and in certain cases come full circle. We know the transaction itself needs to be tended to with care, but becoming a true consultant to our customer is the next level of service. With so much to wade through each day, store owners and their purchasing managers are looking for more than a price sheet and web links. Present real value to your industry partners by making cogent recommendations based on their unique profile, verticals served, and analysis of current market conditions. The best-case scenario is when your relationship evolves to the point where “Trusted Advisor” status is achieved. This can only happen if you put in the time and effort, and as my old friend Steve Coscia once quipped, “Know Your Stuff.” Steve aced this level and beyond since the days we worked together at Ensoniq Corporation; check him out at Coscia Communications.

A Combination of Digital and Analog Contact is the Best Recipe for Success

We are beleaguered at times by incoming information, much of which is important to disseminate. Then there is an entire class of nonsense and junk emails to wade through, ever cautious about scammers and viruses that could literally hold your computer hostage. It’s extended more recently to text messaging, which is yet another medium that we’ve taken to using for sales outreach. When you consider the sheer volume of contacts, remember that meeting up in person and grabbing a breakfast or lunch at a diner is a welcome respite for both buyers and sellers. And while I am still on the fence about the meaningfulness of trade shows, my team will be at NAMM in April and InfoComm in June of this year. We are traveling, making existing dealer and prospect sales calls, balancing to the best of our ability the combination of “old school” versus “new school” methods.

The Basics of Selling Have Not Changed

Despite the evolution of selling from transactional to advisory status, the underpinning fundamentals have not changed. People buy from other people and will favor those who look out for their needs. This transcends product recommendations and build sheets, and reminds us that friendships new and old are at the heart of our business. In this day and age, being kind hearted and empathetic retain their premier position, as at some level we are all facing challenges, and could use a friend. Growth is wonderful, and boosting your bottom line is gratifying, but let’s not forget about the basics. Show up, follow up, support your customer with vigor, and be a nice person while you’re doing all those things. The result of practicing these fundamentals may pleasantly surprise you.

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