If you’re a salesperson, I’m sure you’ve come across a variety of sales techniques by sales gurus that guarantee conversions and hundreds of thousands of dollars in commissions. While all of those may work, they will only take you so far as sealing the deal for the first time. As a salesperson or a sales agent, what you’re looking from any lead isn’t just revenue, but recurring revenue.
Enter RELATIONSHIP SELLING.
Read on below to find out what it is and how you can leverage it optimally.
What is Relationship Selling?
Relationship selling refers to that method of selling wherein the primary focus isn’t the product or any of its attributes such as price, availability etc, but the relationship between the buyer and the seller.
One of the most reliable methods to ensure recurring business from a prospect or client, relationship selling is based on the premise of building long-lasting and ongoing relationships with the clients in order to attain their loyalty.
The Relationship Selling Process Explained
Now that you know all the benefits you can derive from successful relationship selling, here’s how you can go about with it.
Before you start talking about relationship selling and how you’d want to go about with it, it is important to have a list of leads or prospects you’d like to reach out to. Therefore, the first step in the process is to gather a database of contacts, how you could contact them and which of your offerings would be best suited for them.
Once you have your contacts ready, pick each contact one by one and start creating their profile by reading up about their company, how you can add value for them and how your offering will help them. It is important to know the ins and outs of your lead’s business.
Reach out to your lead and provide them with something of value for free – it could be some helpful suggestions, sending them links to relevant content, making a valuable introduction, or anything else that benefits them. Do not expect anything in return in this step. To earn their trust, you first need to prove your worth.
Folow Up & Make the Offering
Follow up on whether they actually gained any value from what you provided in step 3, and then based on your research and understanding of their business, present your offering to them. This step would also entail resolving any queries or objections that they may have, so it is important to know their business well, as well as your product.
Create a Shori-Jokyo
If you’re a Star Trek fan, you know of the term ‘kobayashi maru’, which means a no-win situation. Here’s another term for you – ‘shori-jyoko’, which means a win-win situation. As established above, your relationship sell would assure a win-win situation for both parties involved. Therefore, you need to make an offer that leads to the same.
Keep Repeating Step 3
Even after the sale has come through, you need to make sure you’re adding value to your customer by upgrading your product, offering continuous guidance and coming up with new solutions for their problems.
If you follow these 6 steps, your relationship selling will definitely be successful.
Benefits of Relationship Selling
As mentioned above, relationship selling is based on building and nurturing long lasting relationships with prospects and clients. There are many benefits of implementing relationship selling as the primary sales technique, particularly for B2B companies. These are:
As you develop and continuously nurture a relationship, you create a mutual trust between both the parties – the buyer and the seller. This is one of the biggest advantages derived from the relationship selling process, as trust goes a long way in creating recurring business for a company.
Creating a positive brand image
Once you are able to develop trust and leverage it in order to build a relationship, it reflects positively on your company’s brand identity. It creates a very positive perception of your brand that definitely benefits you in the long run.
Increase in sales
As you build a positive brand identity and still trust amongst your leads and clients, you will witness a boost in your sales, as you will not only be able to garner new clients, but will also get a lot of recurring business from existing clients.
Your customers will turn into promoters
The ultimate success for any marketer is when they get word of mouth publicity, or when their offerings are recommended by their customers to others. Relationship selling is the key to making this happen.
Mutually assured benefits
Another major advantage of relationship selling is that it entails mutually assured benefits to both the buyers and sellers. Buyers often get deals that are worth their while, world class service and treatment as well as the assurance of a great product. Sellers, on the other hand, get better business growth and are able to meet their business objectives.
Relationship Selling Vs Transactional Selling
The most widely used selling method is transactional selling. Transactional selling is a common method of sales in which a sales representative seeks out prospects, develops a relationship and then tries to close a sale. The sales representative finds out what the customer needs and then tries to provide it for that specific sale. Well, here you go:
- Basis – Relationship selling is based on the premise of building and nurturing long lasting relationships with leads and clients. Transactional selling, on the other hand, is based on simply making a hard sell.
- Nature of salesperson/ sales agent – In case of relationship selling, it is important for the sales agent to behave in a friendly manner to gain the other party’s trust. In case of transactional selling, on the other hand, on must behave in a very professional manner.
- Interest – In relationship selling, it is the mutual interest of both parties that is attained. In case of transactional selling, on the other hand, it is just the seller’s interest of making a profit that is held up.
- Preparation – For relationship selling, it is crucial for the sales agent to be able to understand the person involved in the selling process. Whereas, for transactional selling, the agent needs to thoroughly understand the selling process.
Relationship Selling Techniques
Some of the most popular and proven techniques used in order to make successful relationship sales, and build a long-lasting relationship with the clients are as follows:
It is often very easy for sales agents to get swayed away while making the sell or pitching their offerings. Therefore, one of the best practices is to make sure they are intent and active listeners. The agent must always speak less and listen more.
Find points to relate
The most successful relationship selling technique is to establish a common ground. Find something you and the lead can relate to, and then work your way around the conversation from there.
This point honestly cannot be stressed enough. If you ensure you’re adding value through your offerings and in every interaction, it will automatically make the sale for you.
Know their stuff
Most sales agents end up losing the deal not because they did not know enough about their own offering, but because they couldn’t show the client how it would help them. Therefore, while knowing your own offering is important, it is also essential that you are well versed with the client’s business or needs and are able to offer viable arguments as to how your offering will help them.
This is one of the most low effort techniques there is. You do not need t over sell or brag about something you’re not. Be real, and that will make you reliable. Establishing this trust means half your job is done.
Relationship Selling Examples
Relationship selling, as established earlier, isn’t a new concept. It is an age old practice that is used by everyone – ranging from your local service providers to top CMOs and entrepreneurs. Some of the best examples of relationship selling, however, can be found in your locality itself. Take, for example, your local grocer or all-purpose store owner. He will ensure that all your needs are optimally met and that they keep returning to their stores.
Another more popular example of relationship selling is that of Sales-force. Since they provide marketing software and platforms to many of the Fortune 500 companies. In order to ensure they keep getting recurring business, they maintain very cordial relations with the CMOs, CFOs, CEOs and higher level executives of those companies.
Relationship Selling: What the Experts Say
“A relationship selling strategy, or face-to-face marketing strategy, means exactly what its name implies: Get off your fanny and interact with your customers in person. There is no greater way of showing your clients just how much you care than meeting with them at their office, taking them out for coffee or lunch and discussing what their business goals and needs are.”
Most marketing experts, CMOs, CEOs and entrepreneurs swear by relationship marketing as a means to grow and sustain business.
In this day and age, no business is going to be able to run solely on hard sells. The paradigm of business management has shifted towards one involving a lot of relationship building and nurturing. Therefore, it is more important now to be able to create, nurture and leverage relationships in the marketplace so as to grow in a sustainable and organic way. Relationship selling, thus, is the way forward.