Sales representatives have always been tasked with building relationships with their customers. In recent years, however, the focus has shifted to relationship selling. This type of selling emphasizes creating and maintaining long-term relationships with customers, rather than simply making a one-time sale.
Relationship selling has become increasingly important as businesses move away from traditional models of selling. In a relationship selling model, the sales representative works to understand the customer’s needs, bond with them over time, and work in their best interest.
At the beginning of the selling process, you create a range of leads. The next step is to initiate and build the relationship.
Excellent relationships with your customers, where they feel trust, bring them back as repeat customers and lead to referrals that increase your business.
As you begin the process, you will discover that it has very little to do with selling and everything to do with listening to and learning about the customer’s pain points.
Identifying and understanding your target market is one of the most critical steps in creating a successful business. Conversely, failure to define specific target customers is one of the most common reasons businesses never thrive, so don’t let this happen to you.
You can read more about this in the Marketing and Sales section of the Manifesto, and in our previous blog series on developing a profile of your ideal customer.
Use your ideal customer profile to qualify your leads, and then start building a relationship.
Your goal is to create a personal connection with them. For example, mention it if you’ve discovered you have something in common, such as you went to the same school or you both like to golf. This type of information sets you apart from everyone else, and they’ll remember you for it.
Always show a genuine interest in your prospects. This will be easier when you’ve done your preparatory research. When you’re sincere, it builds trust. If you don’t build confidence at this initial stage, it’ll be much harder to do it later in the sales process.
And it applies across the board, as no matter what business you are in, you still need to sell your product or service.
By the way, the system is the secret, and you should have a standard procedure.
For example, my dentist always asks me about my golf game and my kids (by name). I am one of the hundreds of clients, and it’s not like I see him regularly. You might think, “What an amazing memory.” However, the truth is that he has a system. All this information is written in the patient’s file, which is reviewed immediately before the appointment.
When a customer is referred to you, or you already know them, it is best to initiate the contact by a phone call or email.
In other circumstances, connecting with people through their social media platforms can effectively build connections on a personal level.
Here are some ideas:
If you have a negative view of sales, you may see building rapport as a ploy to make an insincere connection – but this isn’t true.
Building rapport just means getting on the same wavelength as someone else.
It occurs in all human interactions and can happen naturally. Accordingly, it is a valuable tool in helping to develop relationships.
Having said that, it can be easy to connect with people who are like you or have similar interests, but not all prospects are like that, so you will have to work harder to build the relationship.
Here are some tips on how to build rapport from the start:
These easy steps will lead to quick rapport building and help develop effective relationships.
Once you’ve commenced a relationship, you need to build it, which is accomplished through listening and asking questions to explore their needs to determine whether you can provide value.
Don’t be pushy while you are in the “dating” stage of the relationship. They may not be ready for purchasing conversations yet.
But once you have sufficient information, timing becomes essential, as the where, when, and how usually roll out after the desired timing comes into the business conversation.
For example, when you ascertain that a customer wants something installed by a specific date, you can assist them in working backward from that date to organize the steps needed to get the job done.
Here are a few helpful starting questions that kick off the questioning. These are valuable as they begin to softly put a timeline on the project.
Another critical factor is ensuring that you are dealing with the person who makes the decisions.
Sales professionals in a hurry to sell their products and services often overlook this, weakening their closing arguments as they speak with the wrong person.
You also look bad because it shows that you didn’t do your job right in the first place.
Don’t anticipate the first person you have spoken with is the decision maker. Instead, identify the decision maker as soon as possible and try and get him/her/them quickly involved in the process.
For example, the target market for our accounting software business was accounting firms. Many such firms were partnerships where the decision-maker was the managing partner. Building relationships with other partners may have gotten us in the door, but the decision-maker needed to attend the presentation to make the sale.
Here are some ways to take the relationship further and build on your initial contact.
It is essential to be efficient in managing relationships.
You now have a list of:
Consequently, your productivity will suffer if you are not organized and efficient, and you might also let a valuable customer slip through your hands.
The good news is that there is a growing number of options to systemize and automate these processes.
The email marketing system we referred to earlier is a crucial first step to getting email sequences uploaded and scheduled before you jump into selling.
Customer relationship management (CRM) software takes it a step further by making it easy to keep track of prospects and sales. Some options include Zoho CRM, Pipedrive, Agile CRM, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, Keap (formerly Infusionsoft), and Salesforce. As well as tracking relationships, most of these programs provide analytics and online reports to help monitor your sales metrics.
It is essential to determine your needs before investing in a CRM, as there is a cost in terms of the subscription, the set-up/learning time, and ongoing use.
For example, you need to track leads and lead activity and monitor your customer base, but do you need team members to have access to the data? If you don’t have a team, this doesn’t make sense.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself before you research solutions:
Many email platforms have a CRM capability and may meet your needs. In addition, some tools integrate with existing email systems, such as Zapier, Bitrix24, or Google Contacts.
Choose what works best for your business and what will help your business grow. Then set it up to handle your existing and future customers.
In conclusion, relationship selling is a sales technique in which a salesperson develops a bond with a potential customer with the goal of establishing a long-term relationship. The salesperson can provide the best possible solution by taking the time to get to know the customer and understand their needs. In today’s competitive marketplace, businesses need to focus on developing relationships with their customers in order to create repeat business and maintain a loyal customer base.
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