Relationships – 7th of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions

This is the 7th in my series of the Top 10 Kurlan Sales Management Functions.


There isn’t a person in the company who must work more on developing relationships than an individual in a sales management role, whether it be a line level sales manager or the World Wide VP of Sales.  But developing a relationship does not mean that one should become friends.  Wikipedia says that an interpersonal relationship is an association between two individuals. While it is inevitable that a friendship will evolve here and there, that is not and should not be the goal.  Friendship compromises rather than enhances your ability to be effective in the other sales management functions.

In most sales management roles, relationships must be developed throughout the organization with:

  • Sales managers;
  • Salespeople;
  • Sales Leadership;
  • Finance and Accounting;
  • Manufacturing;
  • IT
  • Executive Team;
  • Customer Service;
  • Technical Support;
  • IS
  • HR.

It’s important to build and maintain relationships with every department in the company so that they all support the effort to acquire, maintain and grow the customer base.  You wouldn’t want anyone getting in the way of that effort and you must have them willing to do what it takes to help accomplish your goals.

In addition to your internal relationships, it is equally important to develop relationships with all of your key customers.  Not just the big customers, but the accounts that could become big, the centers of influence, and the ones you simply couldn’t bare to lose.  Your relationships with these customers are crucial in the event that the customer’s salesperson leaves the company.  Your relationship with that account may be the only power you have to retain that business!

But all of the relationship building stops here.  You don’t want these relationships to become deep friendships which can compromise your ability to effectively do your job. Read this article about what happens when you need your salespeople to love and respect you.

Instead, your relationships should be like the one I have with my dry cleaner.  When Chris sees me pull up, he immediately drops everything, gets all of the cleaned clothes from the prior week, brings them to the car, and hangs them.  He opens the trunk, takes out the laundry bag with the current week’s dirty clothes and brings them inside. He grabs a couple of Tootsie Rolls for our son and chats with him if he’s in the car. We don’t sort and count items of clothing, we don’t exchange slips and receipts, and I never have to wait.  He knows our preferences without having to consult a computer, gives me the accessories I might need, and will do anything in his power to make sure I’m happy.  We have a great relationship, we are happy to see each other, and we know about each others’ families .  But we aren’t in a relationship.  We don’t have meals together, hang out, go out for drinks, or visit each others’ homes and we’re not friends. We simply have a strong relationship.

Develop relationships like those with everyone I mentioned and you’ll be free to effectively work on the other 9 Sales Management Functions.