So what does relationship selling mean in today's terms? What are the relationship selling best practices that you need to know? Continue reading this article to find out.
A modern definition of relationship selling
Depending on your generation, you may know relationship selling as face-to-face marketing. Before the Internet, companies often had door-to-door sales reps to hawk their wares to consumers. These sales were not predicated on the price or details or the product, but rather the strong relationship that the sales force developed with its clients.
While most consumer door-to-door selling techniques are a thing of the past (with some notable exceptions like Avon or Mary Kay), it is still common practice for many B2B firms in various industries.
Why use relationship selling?
Relationship selling is not transactional selling. Transactional sales are used for low-ticket items where the product’s price and details are more important than building a long-term customer relationship. Relationship selling is most often used to create a long-term relationship with a customer for e high ticket item that is likely to be purchased multiple times throughout the business relationship. For an individual consumer, it might be a vehicle.
What skills do you need to succeed in relationship sales?
The greatest book on relationship selling was written decades before the term was ever coined. In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote, "How to Win Friends and Influence People." This classic book outlines all of the principles and best practices for relationship selling.
Be an enthusiastic expert
If you are not enthusiastic about selling products and services, why would you expect your customers to be? Enthusiasm is contagious, but you also have to back it up with in-depth knowledge of what you are selling. You should always be in a position to know more than your potential customer about your product. This means studying every piece of literature your company produces, talking with your support personnel, and gleaning information from long-term employees at the company. Expertise is critical to relationship selling.
Never promise something you cannot deliver. There is an old saying that trust takes a lifetime to build and 30 seconds to lose. Keep that in mind before you provide someone with a less-than-truthful response. In the end, it will come back around to bite you.
Find common ground
Sports? Music? Kids? Find some common ground with your prospects and clients who do not have anything to do with selling. This allows you to build a relationship with your customer that does not require you to give away the store from a business perspective. Instead, you might give away some great advice on a shared hobby, like gardening, etc.
All of these skills are interrelated. Remember that honestly, ting? Finding common ground? Being an expert in your field? All of those add up to building trust with your customers. When they know that what you tell them is real and that you are not just blowing smoke up, you know where they will trust you. And businesses prefer to do business with people they can trust because it is how they can fulfill their commitments to their customers.
Be an active listener
When interacting with your customer, spend more time listening than talking. Get to know what their pain points are and then offer a solution. Also, to make sure that you have understood what they have said, repeat their words back to them with something like, "So what you are saying is that you need X, right?" This makes sure that you are both on the same page and will make the customer feel cared for.
Never be defensive
You have value and so do your products and services. Never come off as being defensive or argumentative with a potential customer. If they are not buying what you are selling at the moment, be gracious, and say your goodbyes. Then, follow up with them in a few months to see if their interest has changed. Never take a no personally.
Do not chase potential clients
Chasing potential customers can seem desperate. No one wants to date a hopeless suitor. Learn to take a no graciously, do not demean yourself or your product or service by begging for a sale. That does not build a long-term relationship. Stay calm, and come back at a later time, always with a positive and upbeat attitude.
Here is another place where being an absolute expert is invaluable. Your expertise allows you to add value to their organization by communicating tips and tricks for product use that might not be readily available in any other channel. Schedule a training session with the staff, or give a webinar on strategies for the use of your product. The possibilities are endless. It is also essential to note that you can add value no matter where you are in the sales cycle, even presale.
Give more than you take
This is tied to adding value. Ensure you are always giving something to the customer other than just the "stock" product or service. Throw in what freebies you can. Incentivize them to refer you to other potential customers. Bring them a book on their favorite hobby, etc. Again, relationship selling is not about selling one thing to someone; it is about selling many things over a lifetime.
Deliver personalized solutions
By listening actively, you can learn a great deal about your customers' problems. Equipped with that information, you are then able to deliver personalized and customized solutions to their problems.
Some B2B tools to assist in relationship sales
Although the relationship selling process is an interactive sales technique, it does not necessarily have to be a face-to-face sales process truly. Developing relationships with prospects through social media is a modern take on the process. There are many ways to interact with your customers virtually to fulfill the basic principles needed for great relationship selling.
The relationship selling best practices key goal is to build customer loyalty to your brand. Fortunately, customer loyalty program software can help you build customer incentive programs to reward repeat customers.
As an electronic marketing company, E-Marketing Associates has several software solutions designed to improve customer retention and loyalty and improve your relationship selling strategies. Contact us today to tell us how we can help you.