In the game of sales, relationships are everything. People buy from people, and inevitably they buy from people they trust. Sales relationships are akin to romantic ones, they should be built on solid foundations of mutual respect and trust. Just as you have to earn a partner's love, you have to earn the right to sell.
In this post we're going to cover some of the fundamentals of relationship building. By building strong relationships you'll earn the right to help and the opportunity to close more sales.
1. Do your research
Knowledge is power... and it's also the key to building relationships. Ultimately you need to unearth your prospect's needs, find out what their objective is, and then work out why you're able to provide the best solution. Firstly, you'll need to know who to build a relationship with. Do your due diligence and find out who the decision maker is. As part of this process find out who their influencers are. Who do they trust? Remember, everyone you encounter at a business is important. From the receptionist to the CEO, they all have a part to play, and their impression of you is just as important. Obviously, you'll put in the majority of your time with the decision maker, but don't forget that others within the business may give you clues as to their company's pain points and needs. Sales is primarily about helping; if you ask the right questions and can provide the best solution to their problems, you're already half way there.
2. All sales start with trust
Whilst having the 'right' solution is half the problem, the other part of the equation is trust. You wouldn't buy off someone you don't trust. Why would you?
Trust in a relationship partly comes from familiarity. Ask genuine questions, not only about their business, but about their life. You need to know them, and to find out what makes them tick, but equally, they also need to know about you. Share bits of your life and experiences with them. Sometimes, off-sales banter can reveal the most about your prospect, and finding common ground can help to build a long and trusting relationship.
As well as familiarity, trust is also borne by delivering the goods. Every little interaction matters. Call when you say you will, send over that product info as soon as they ask, and answer questions promptly. Whatever you do, don't over promise. Be real, set expectations, and above all be honest. If your solution isn't quite right, let them know. You don't want to mis-sell your product. Earning their trust and building a long-standing relationship could mean either a sale in the future, or a recommendation to other contacts. On occasion, not selling is actually the key to a strong relationship, and a string of future sales.
3. Take your time
Patience is an essential attribute for any successful sales person. When it comes to building relationships, taking your time is a must. You wouldn't propose on a first date, so why do some salespeople push for a sale on their first encounter? Take your time to find out all you can about your prospect's needs. By taking your time, you'll be able to build up the rapport you need to make a worthwhile sale. If they seem like they're not biting the bait straight away, don’t be too hasty to disregard them. Befriending prospects takes time, and is absolutely key to helping them become familiar with your brand, your offering and you.
4. Know how to articulate your solution
Communication is an art form. Being able to clearly illustrate your solution in a way that makes sense to your client is vital. Match your pitch to the client, to their pains, and deliver it in a way that benefits them. Subtle differences in articulation can make all the difference. Some clients will prefer a high level technical description of your solution, some will prefer an explanation rife with visual representation, whilst others will prefer a more hands on approach. The key is that you know the benefits and the limits of your solution, and are able to match your delivery to their needs.
5. Predict objections
Understanding your prospect will help you to predict any objections that are specific to them. This all comes back to doing your research and understanding their needs. By having a relationship that you've built overtime, you'll have an insight into any issues or concerns they may have, and you'll be better able to deal with any objections.
6. Don't make it all about the close
If your only goal is to close the sale, this will be transparent to your prospect – they’ll hear it in your voice and it will show in your body language. You don’t want someone to buy from you because you have good persuasion skills, you want people to buy from you because they trust you and believe in your product. You want to sell them the right solution that fits their needs and answers their problems. If you have the right solution and the trusting relationship in place, the deal will often close itself. If it's not right, don't sell. Your relationship and your reputation is worth more than the initial sale. Long-standing relationships built on trust and mutual respect can result in repeat business and recommendations that far outweigh a fast sale.
If you’re looking for your next Sales opportunity, or you’re seeking a top Sales professional to join your team, then please do get in touch with us - we’d love to help!