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How to Leverage Business Relationships & Maintain Proper Sales Etiquette

Leverage Business Relationships
November 2018

Understanding the needs of rental housing operators creates positive interactions.

Names mean a lot in the apartment business: Just ask the people on either side of the transaction.

The term “supplier partner”—and not vendor—acknowledges that a more collaborative relationship is possible. To build a true partnership, according to the panelists in the session “Supplier Skills: How to Leverage Relationships While Maintaining the Proper Sales Etiquette” at NAA’s Apartmentalize, supplier partners must have a client-centric approach to every interaction.

“This business is all about relationships,” says Jeannette Cox, Executive Vice President of Oddo Development. “The best way to build relationships is by actually getting engaged.”

Getting engaged is easier said than done. It requires understanding the needs of rental housing operators, adding value to their businesses with the right products and services and being honest about your products and services.

“Do your research before your meeting,” says Charles Stroud, CAS, Vice President of Business Development for Appliance Warehouse of America, and 2016 Chairman of the NAA’s National Supplier Council. “There’s a whole list of ways that you can frame your meeting or conversation with clients and create value in that interaction. I would challenge you to do that with every prospect interaction.”

This includes the initial outreach to the rental housing operator via email, which many supplier partners send to prospects before major conferences, like Apartmentalize. Unfortunately, some of the emails operators receive are confusing and don’t add value, according to Cox.

“I shouldn’t be doing the work to figure out what you’re trying to sell,” Cox says. “If you’re going to be brief, at least put what kind of product you are trying to sell in the email.”

This often comes from focusing on the number of interactions sales teams have with prospective clients rather than having valuable interactions. Sales teams can also fall into the quantity trap when trying to network at conference events that might have thousands of people in attendance.

“The goal is never to try to work an entire room in one night,” says Nathan Burnett, President of Watchtower Security. “Focus on quality interaction, rather than quantity of interactions. Set a goal of meeting five new people at every one of these events. It trains me to focus on quality.”

Sometimes having a quality interaction means letting a prospective client know that your product or service isn’t right for them, according to Stroud. “Have integrity in your interaction. If you determine it’s not a good fit, say it isn’t and step away.”

Maintaining a supplier partner relationship, rather than a vendor relationship, requires this kind of integrity, quality rather than quantity interactions and conversations that add value to rental housing operators.