Sales requires forging strong bonds with potential customers in order to build trust. A relationship selling technique, which helps to create better connections and turn more leads into sales, can be used by salespeople to contribute to the development of that trust.
We’ll go through the fundamentals of relationship selling in this RisePath post, along with its benefits and practical application for you and your team.
Relationship selling: What is it?
In the context of the sales process, relationship selling refers to a collection of sales actions that help build a personal bond between a seller and a prospect or buyer. Building solid relationships has been even more crucial in the past year as buyers say they want consultants who will be supportive and who they can turn to in difficult times.
Every interaction between a salesperson and a customer must be guided by a sales strategy for relationship selling to be successful.
Relationship selling is taking a long-term sales approach, as opposed to transactional selling, which focuses on generating as many sales to as many consumers as possible. The old-school traditional selling slogan of “Always Be Closing” is abandoned in favour of putting the relationship first, which has numerous advantages, as opposed to aiming to close the deal as soon as possible.
What distinguishes relationship selling from social selling?
Relationship selling and social selling are two distinct selling tactics, despite the fact that they may sound identical.
Regardless of how you contact prospects or interact with customers, relationship selling is a strategy that supports the whole sales process. In contrast, social selling describes a sales strategy in which representatives connect with potential clients via social media.
It’s crucial to understand that they don’t conflict with one another. Relationship selling often includes social selling as a key component since it can be a particularly successful approach to establishing personal connections.
Why relationship sales are extremely successful
People will listen to you if they like you, but they will only do business with you if they trust you, according to a famous quote by Zig Ziglar.
Before a potential consumer will fork over their hard-earned money, there must be some measure of trust, regardless of what you sell—whether it’s a $1 product or an enterprise-level service. They must have faith in you to uphold your half of the bargain and supply the good or service, as well as in the ability of your solution to meet their demands, ease their discomfort, and ultimately resolve their issue.
When the process is conducted online, this becomes much more crucial. Prospective clients are more reluctant and less inclined to make a purchase when anyone can create a website that is packed with promises. You have the chance to demonstrate the validity of your value proposition through relationship selling.
Intimacy is a crucial element in the equation for trust, according to Charles Green, author and creator of Trusted Advisor Associates. In the context of sales, intimacy is the sense of security a potential client experiences when working with a salesman; the reassurance that they have their best interests at heart and wouldn’t purposely cause them any damage. Although we’ll learn more about specific strategies to increase intimacy later, relationship selling’s overarching goal is to increase the sense of intimacy that fosters trust.
Relationship selling entails treating potential clients like real people rather than just sales possibilities in their CRM, in addition to fostering trust.
Relationship selling goes a step farther than that since it goes beyond simple personalisation to create a real emotional bond that will last for a long time.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that relationship selling becomes even more crucial when working with lengthy sales cycles, complex solutions, and pricey products because these situations typically call for greater degrees of trust and more solid partnerships. This is especially true if you’re offering subscription-based services, SaaS solutions, or other services that depend on regular customers or continuing commitments.
You’ll also differentiate yourself from the competition by investing the time necessary to create better bonds with your prospects and clients. Relationship selling stands on its own as a difference rather than attempting to compete on price or features. This is excellent for bringing in new customers (including those brought in through referrals) and keeping hold of existing ones, which increases customer lifetime value (CLTV) and lowers churn.
Relationship-based sales strategies
Understanding the underlying ideas and traits that underpin a lasting relationship is essential for relationship selling.
Even if being liked won’t always result in a sale, it will be challenging to close a deal if your prospects detest your salespeople’s calls. Soft skills, like relationship management and excellent communication, become extremely valuable in these situations. According to a 2020 study, respondents who consistently concentrated on their soft skills had a 7% higher likelihood of exceeding their sales goals the previous year.
Some could counter that their duty is to close the deal, not cultivate relationships. However, being likeable does not obligate your sales representatives to agree with everything the client says. They may occasionally need to confront customers or point out when they are mistaken. Relationships are two-way, and mutual respect makes them stronger. Being on time, for instance, demonstrates respect for the prospect’s time if a rep schedules a meeting for a specific time.
Having your prospects’ best interests in mind when selling is intimate. The prospect must feel that you genuinely care about their needs in addition to your reps having an understanding of the prospect and what they need.
Understanding the parties engaged in the purchase and those who will be impacted by it is the first step in doing this. Look beyond the apparent decision-makers to find out who the other stakeholders and possible influencers are.
Your sales representatives must conduct thorough research and have open discussions with decision-makers and other stakeholders in order to get this information. They won’t likely learn everything they require on the first call, of course. Finding those relationships that are not immediately apparent takes patience. Even though it can take a few calls, if they’ve done their job of being upfront and honest, they’re more likely to get the true answers.
They’ll be better able to appreciate how your product or service can benefit and what the prospect’s top concerns are once they’ve located everyone who is pertinent.
But resist the urge to attempt to pass for intimacy—that can be easily detected. One-to-many emails that appear to be one-to-one are not desirable. For instance, it won’t help you develop a relationship if you send a follow-up email that is customised with the prospect’s name but clearly templated in the content (i.e., it cites no significant insights linked to the prospect).
Empathy, a crucial sales talent, is frequently described as the act of “walking a mile in another person’s shoes”; even if you can’t relate to the particular difficulties they encounter, you may try to grasp what it’s like.
To accomplish this, you must look past the character and concentrate on the individual. According to Andy Paul, author and founder of The Sales House, this is employing cognitive empathy to comprehend the context rather than being influenced solely by emotions and going beyond simply knowing how they’re feeling to understanding why they’re feeling that way. “I believe that we frequently lapse into sympathy […] and that’s not helpful to them, but understanding is,” said the speaker.
Another unfalsifiable trait is this one. It will have the opposite impact and breed suspicion, further alienating the prospect, if they believe that your rep’s empathy is nothing more than sentimental clichés or phrases from a sales script.
Integrity and sincerity
The foundation of every relationship is honesty. However, there isn’t always a good history between honesty and sales. Theodore Levitt, a notable economist, stated in 1960 that marketing is “concern[ed] with the strategies and techniques of getting people to trade their cash for your goods […] The customer is somebody “out there” who, with sufficient ingenuity, may be separated from his or her loose change.”
Unfortunately, this unfavourable perception still exists today, which is one of the reasons honesty must be prioritised in relationship selling, even if it means losing out on sales.
Sometimes doing so entails giving a justification for why your product isn’t a good fit for them right now or even suggesting another option. Even while it may seem counter-intuitive, taking the long view and putting the interests of your customers before your own is essential to establishing trust and can still give you a competitive advantage. You establish your credibility by fulfilling your word and behaving in their best interests.
Honesty and authenticity go hand in hand because authenticity is being genuine to who you are. Your sales representatives that are genuine understand that imperfection is preferable to being human. It’s OK to acknowledge ignorance if someone is unable to provide an immediate response. However, even a minor fabrication or an attempt to avoid answering a question can cause irreparable harm to confidence.
Adopting a relationship-selling strategy
The best results will only be achieved by your team if the appropriate fundamental talents are applied throughout the sales process, even though having them is helpful. Your reps can put these talents to use and establish stronger customer relationships by following these steps.
- Recognize oneself
- Select the appropriate prospects
- Use attentive listening
- Use a win-win strategy
- Add noteworthy value
- Continued customer support after the transaction
Salespeople may better understand their needs, provide greater value, and establish trust by emphasising their connections with prospects and customers. This entails taking the long view and prioritising the needs of the client before business objectives.
Your team will be miles ahead of the competition if it has a foundation built on the sound ideas that relationship selling alludes to and a sales approach that encourages solid partnerships.
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