Matt Forrest-The Importance of Relationship in your Sales Process

Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Matt Forrest
About the interviewee

Matt Forrest is the Principal of Cardinal Maps and Design and has been building creative and unique mapping solutions for clients in many different sectors. Matt has been creating print and interactive maps for seven years and handles the core business operations of the firm. Matt has worked with large organizations, small businesses, and government agencies both in the US and abroad and Cardinal’s work has received multiple awards and accolades.

Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).  

Cardinal Maps is based out of New York City and has four employees and multiple freelance contractors. We currently focus on five core sectors: public transit mapping, business intelligence mapping, tourism maps, political mapping, and event mapping. We work businesses of all sizes and scales, from large corporations to family owned businesses to government agencies. We primarily work with US based clients but also have projects abroad as well.

Tell us about why it is important for you to establish a relationship with your potential clients.

I think the main reason behind building a strong relationship with a potential client is to build familiarity with each other well before a project begina. In my experience this helps lay the groundwork for what they will expect from you during the project or after a sale is made. Being open and transparent while establishing connections with the potential client helps them familiarize themselves with you and lets them know what they can expect from your working relationship. If you can build an open and cordial first impression you can make an immediate impression on a potential client.

I also think that building a relationship helps ease the process as a whole. Having something other than business to discuss with a potential client makes the any conversation easier. Make sure to listen to the client and learn a little about them. Have a few topics to bring up before jumping into the business aspects of the meeting.

What do you do to establish relationship with the key players?

Just have a simple conversation to start. One thing I like to do is learn a little bit about the client before hand. Learn about something they might have worked on in the past, what’s happening in their city, what kind of sports teams they like, or even the weather. Have a few quick topics to discuss before a meeting begins and just pretend like you are getting to know them a bit before jumping into the details of your meeting. I’ve found you can almost always find something that you and the potential client both find interesting and using that as a starting point almost always helps build a strong relationship.

From here it becomes much easier to start an open and transparent conversation about business. You have established some common ground and trust with a potential client and you can easily carry that same trust and transparency into the business conversation. Even if the time isn’t right for that client they are going to remember you from that conversation since you both had something to talk about.

What sales techniques have you found as ineffective in developing relationships, which ones work, and why?

I always try to find something that both the client and myself can talk about. I really enjoy college sports and football and this has been a great starting point many times. If you know about something happening in their city this is another good place to start as well. I also like to try and have meetings in person or via video call and this helps make the meeting a bit more personal as well.

There have been times when sports or other topic don’t work as well. You have to know something about the potential client to establish an effective relationship with them. Do a little research on LinkedIn to see what they are interested in and try that as a starting place. You also need to know when a client wants to get straight to business as well. If that is the case then get straight to the point. Gauge the client’s reactions and how the conversation is going and adjust as you need to.

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