About the interviewee
Patrick T Malone, Senior Partner at The PAR Group, who has decades of experience in operations, customer service, and sales management. Before joining PAR as a senior consultant in 1989, Patrick worked in a variety of management roles including Vice President – National Sales Manager for American Greetings Corporation and The Scott Companies. As a key member of the PAR team, Patrick has trained and consulted throughout the world with a wide range of organizations. A frequent speaker at industry and management conferences, Patrick is the co-author of the best-selling business book Cracking the Code to Leadership and the author of many business articles. He also serves as host of the radio show “This Week in Blairsville”
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
The PAR Group is an international training and development firm based in Atlanta, Georgia with 7 employees and multiple associates and affiliates located around the globe. Their global clients include the likes of Coca-Cola, Delta Air Lines, HP and IBM while domestically they have assisted companies including Georgia Power, Norfolk Southern and USF Freightways.
Tell us about why it is important for you to establish a relationship with your potential clients.
Our products and services have a standardized baseline that is then customized to the individual companies, their industry and the specific needs of their people who engage in our development process. Without a relationship with decision-makers and decision influencers our products look like another “me too” training program. Our customization brings value to every client we engage but the value is different based on the client’s needs and wants. So if we are going to demonstrate our benefits customized to individual clients, we need to understand what they value. That information is only available once a relationship has begun and I believe the key is being “interested instead of trying to be interested”.
What do you do to establish relationship with the key players?
Begin with independent research on the company and the key players. There is a wide range of information available in the public domain. Use LinkedIn to further refine the individual information and to determine if there is a level 1 introduction available.
Initial contact is fact finding concentrated in the areas of Potential Need, Authority (decision making process) and available Resources.
From this research and initial qualifying contact I can describe the key benefit I am able to deliver and that opens the initial sales conversation by answering the prospect’s question “why should I care?” That leads into an extensive sales conversation with the end goal of a trial application with clearly identified objectives/outcomes.
The implementation of a trial that exceeds the expectations firms up the relationship and opens the door to more extensive applications. Ongoing customer service and follow ups maintain the relationship and lead to referrals.
What sales techniques have you found as ineffective in developing relationships, which ones work, and why?
The concept that you can develop a relationship through entertainment, wining and dining or sporting events used to be door openers but are largely ineffective today.
Customers no longer rely on sales people for information and they expect sales people to be well-informed about the prospective company, their industry as well as the reps line of products and services.
Customers no longer want to be sold but are looking for sales people who can help them make good well-informed decisions about whether or not to buy.
Customers are looking for sales people who can help them become more successful.
Customers want to do business with sales people who can become “trusted advisors.”