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Chapter CaseSelling for Relationshipsfirst, inc.: Understanding Communication Style, Buying Teams, and Buying NeedsBackgroundRelationshipsFirst, Inc. is a relatively new entrant in the cloud computing business management software industry, having been in existence for a little over four years. It specializes in providing Web-based customizable customer relationship management software solutions that support an entire company, from accounting to Web capabilities. Its software is constructed around an individual customer record so that accounting, sales, support, shipping, and billing all access identical information for each interaction. The company currently serves a variety of businesses across a number of industries. Customer satisfaction is the company’s top priority and it acts with integrity to fulfill this mission. Its technology is easy to learn and easy to use, and its information technology staff is extremely knowledgeable and customer friendly.The company currently employs more than 75 salespeople who call directly on businesses and organizations throughout the United States. Salespeople are trained to be customer-oriented problem solvers who seek to establish long-term relationships with customers. This approach has allowed RelationshipsFirst to experience steady sales gains since its beginning and it hopes to continue its upward growth trajectory.Current SituationDawn, a recent college graduate who just completed the sales rep training program at RelationshipsFirst, is excited about her upcoming meeting with Green Meadows Nursery and Landscape, LLC of Kansas City, Missouri.Privately owned, Green Meadows serves the nursery and landscaping needs of its customers through its two large metro retail locations. Each location has a store manager, and several full-and part-time employees to assist with sales and operations. The company’s owner serves as president and they also employ a director of marketing and sales, who among other things oversees a staff of five outside salespeople, a director of operations, a director of information technology (whose primary responsibility is to run the Web side of their business), and a director of accounting and finance. The outside sales force solicits both residential and commercial accounts and in large part is responsible for growing the non-retail business for Green Meadows.A good friend of Dawn’s, Taylor Shift, happens to be neighbors with Stewart Strong, Green Meadows director of marketing and sales. In a recent conversation with Stewart, Taylor mentioned Dawn and how she might be able to help him at Green Meadows. Stewart suggested that Taylor have Dawn give him a call and subsequently Dawn was able to secure a meeting with Stewart Strong the following Tuesday morning.Dawn was delighted that Taylor provided her with this prospect and was confident that this would help her get off to a fast start at RelationshipsFirst.Dawn has been friends with Taylor since grade school. This is not unusual for Dawn, who has many friends and close relationships, likely because she shows such a sincere interest in others, particularly in their hobbies, interests, family, and mutual friends. She enjoys listening to the opinions of others and seems to get along with most everyone, generally avoiding conflict rather than submitting to others. Dawn credits her ability to communicate well orally (she loves to talk and socialize), get along well with others, and build a consensus, in part, for her landing a position in sales at RelationshipsFirst.Prior to her meeting with Stewart Strong, Dawn asked Taylor if she could meet her for lunch to find out a little more about Stewart and Green Meadows. When Dawn finally arrived for lunch, late as usual, she wasn’t able to learn as much about Green Meadows as she would have liked, but she did learn the following about Stewart. Taylor indicated that Stewart was a good neighbor, but he certainly wasn’t a friendly, outgoing relationship builder such as Dawn. In fact, he tended to be rather cool, tough, and competitive when it came to relationships. He liked to be in charge of people and situations and was not willing to let others stand in the way of achieving his goals. Stewart manages his time well, is impatient with others, and tends to be very businesslike. He likes extreme sports and appears to have a penchant for taking risks. According to Taylor, at annual home owners’ association meetings, Stewart tends to be the most outspoken individual in attendance. While opinionated, Stewart rarely takes advice from others and prefers to make his own decisions.Although Dawn believed she still had additional work to do before meeting with Stewart, she was at least glad to know a little bit about the person she would be meeting. The more she knew about her buyer, she surmised, the better she could tailor her offering to meet his needs.QuestionsBased on your understanding of both Dawn and Stewart, how would you characterize the communication style of each?What, if any, preparations and style flexing should Dawn make to better relate to and communicate with Stewart Strong?Who all might be involved in the buying decision for Green Meadows with regard to Dawn’s offering? For each, explain why and how.Explain at least two needs that might be met by Green Meadows by purchasing the software offered by RelationshipsFirst.

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