Time to Admit It: The Sales 'Relationship' Is Over

Trying to create a relationship between your sales team and its customers – particularly in business-to-business sales settings – may have become a big waste of time at best, according to a new study.

The researchers found that buyers prefer to connect (and disconnect) with suppliers as needs arise and hold low expectations for future interactions with salespeople outside of their business dealings.

"Buyers speak in depth about going through the normal 'script' of trying to behave as if seller interactions are 'real' relationships, and sustaining this activity as a 'polite fiction' to help them accomplish personal and corporate goals," the researchers  said. "This study suggests that business buyers are not actually seeking authentic relationships, and sellers' efforts to develop them may even create negative tension for buyers."

The study was conducted by Christopher Blocker of Baylor University, Mark Houston of Texas Christian University, and Dan Flint of the University of Tennessee. It appears in the Journal of Consumer Research, in an article called, "Real Relationships between Business Buyers and Salespeople: Reality or Polite Fiction?"