The Internet and other technology breakthroughs have fundamentally changed the way we do business. New technology is being created at warp speed, and customers expect your immediate response. This cycle of ever-increasing speed and sophistication not only creates an intensely competitive marketplace, but places further demands on our companies to act and react quickly.

But whether a business is ultra-high tech or low tech, the most important business decisions are still based on personal relationships. There is significant research about why customers make buying decisions. Bottom line: They choose a certain salesperson because they like and trust him and his organization.

First impressions matter. There’s a saying among salespeople that customers buy with emotion and justify with fact. If our customers don’t like us or don’t feel comfortable with us, they won’t buy from us. You can wow your clients with technology know-how now and try to win them over later, once they find out you’re honest and reliable. But the reality is you need people to start liking you within the first few seconds of meeting. That’s really all you have to get off on the right foot. And fancy gizmos won’t make that happen. But a trusted referral and a personal connection will.

Relationships matter. Would you prefer to do business with someone you’ve met via a cold call or someone you’ve met through a friend or colleague with whom you have an established, respected relationship? It’s a no-brainer. Relationships, both personal and business, power all aspects of our lives.

Real-life results matter. The most energizing and exciting part of sales work is the relationships with our customers, the interaction. Salespeople like learning about a customer’s situation and matching their solutions to that person’s needs. In an era dominated by ever-expanding technology, the creative, strategic part of our business is back. Yes, it requires brainpower. But isn’t that what we love about what we do?

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. © Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.