Relationship-based sales are rooted in one thing. Trust.
Coincidentally, trust is perhaps both the most underrated and oversold business factor, today. To build relationships with customers, companies must provide a valuable, consistent, and dependable experience. These factors, along with others, create the trust that is necessary to succeed in today’s business environment.
As much as we may like to believe that we make our decisions rationally, humans make the majority of their decisions based on emotion. Knowing this, it’s time sales professionals shift their sales approach for one that benefits both the customer and themselves.
To help you learn the best ways to build relationships with your customers, read on as we walk you through what you need to stop doing, why going the extra mile matters, and tips for sales success.
Stop the Sales Pitch and Talk with Your Customer
According to a 2017 study from Linkedin, more than 91% of all sales professionals use some form of sales tech to manage their sales process. Keeping yourself organized is a smart idea, but how many of you feel that these tools remove you from building relationships with customers?
The goal of a sales tool is to help you scale your business relations with customers more efficiently – not to become an excuse for why you haven’t spoken to one of your favorite customers in more than 3 months. Just because they may not have an immediate need for your product or services, simply checking in with them establishes that you care about your customer. The next time they need what your company provides, you will be their first call.
Changing your sales approach may not easy but it most certainly is advantageous. In the traditional sales mindset, the idea was to always deliver a strong sales pitch and aim to close the sale. In relationship-based sales, the sales cycle may be longer, but the trust and loyalty you’ll earn simply by conversing with your customer is a greater conversion than almost anything else.
Going the Extra Mile for Relationship-Based Sales
It’s refreshing to see the number of businesses who are now providing quality customer care and going above and beyond for their customers. While generating a sale through relationship building is vital, it’s just as important to keep the customer by making the effort to provide their hard-won customer with a quality and shareable experience.
To create a shareable, memorable, or just generally great customer experience, you need people to make it happen. And not just any people – great people who care.
One of the people that consistently goes the extra mile for their customers and prospects is our own Jeff Lesko, an expert Business Advisor here at Fast Capital 360.
Jeff’s been serving our customers for a little more than two years and is one of the most consistent generators of five-star reviews. We wanted to know a little bit more about Jeff’s tips for sales and how his relationship-based sales approach keeps customers engaged and excited to work with him.
How important is it for clients to trust you?
Jeff: It’s extremely important. Once my clients can trust me with the needs of their business, it allows the process to move much faster and it helps us work together to figure out what is best for the business.
What’s the most vital ingredient for establishing trust in a business relationship?
Jeff: For me, it’s just being myself. I don’t feel like people want to speak with a robot or someone who only talks about what is needed for my own personal gain.
I always try to be personable with everyone I speak with and build a personal relationship. I want the client to feel like they are a friend and that they can reach out to me at any time with any needs at all.
With clients who keep working with you – are they coming back to you because of the funds or because they trust you?
Jeff: I think it is a mix of both.
They choose to apply for funding again because they see how much it helps their business. There are so many places they could apply but I believe they choose to come back to me because of the trust and friendship I have built with them. They know that working with me is easy, and transparent and that I will always have their best interests at heart.
As Jeff points out, focusing on the relationship over the sale means you are sincerely doing whatever you can to find the best options for the people you’re working with. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C, or somewhere-in-between company, you’re still selling to a person at the end of it all.
To help you further on your quest to building better sales relationships, we put together a list of our favorite tips.
9 Tips for Sales Relationship Building
If you give your customer a chance to explain what they need, chances are they’re going to say it, whether they know it or not. As the sales representative, it’s your job to be attentive to at all times so when the moment’s right, you can share how you can help.
Ask for Feedback
How do you know if your product or service was what your client was looking for? The easiest way is simply to ask if it was. Any issues your customer may have might be easily solved by you or could be something that reveals a major issue at the core of the product. Listening to your customer not only gives you valuable insight, it shows your customer just how much you appreciate their feedback.
The faster you are to respond to a question, comment, or concern, the easier it will be for your customer to trust you. The promptness of your reply shows your customer just how much of a priority they are to you. It’s not expected that you will or can respond within seconds, but being attentive goes a long way.
Set an Example
Establishing relationships with your team is just as important relationships you’re building with your customers. As a leader, how you approach your customers sets the tone for the rest of your team. The way you communicate, interact, respond, and ultimately sell to your own clients will show how you expect everyone to be treated.
Even if you haven’t sold something to a prospective customer, it’s still crucial to provide value. It could be as simple as sharing a blog post you found relevant to a conversation you had or making an introduction to someone who could help them solve an entirely different problem your prospect has. Show your prospect how much their success means to you and you will be rewarded, even if it’s not immediate.
Talk, Don’t Sell
We reemphasize this point because it’s so crucial in today’s world. The last thing you want after you’ve invested so much time to build a relationship with a customer is for them to feel pressured. If you’ve been listening and asking for feedback along the way, you should have a general idea of when they’ll be looking to move forward.
In all sales relationships, you want to make life as easy as possible for your customer. Whether you’re just beginning a relationship or are 11 years in, making sure your interactions and asks from your customer are as simple as they can be.
Sales relationships take time. Even when there may be pressure to seal the deal, you need to operate on the customer’s timeline. Coming off as pushy at the wrong time can ultimately end a relationship and ruin months, if not years, or hard work.
While being valuable, convenient, responsive and patient are excellent and extremely useful assets, the best thing you can be for your customer is yourself. Simply being someone who cares and is willing to listen to their needs and answer a question is all a customer could ask for. They want to trust you – trust yourself to be everything they need.
The Last Word on Building Relationships with Your Customers
The more emphasis that is placed on producing the best outcome for your customer, the better your customer will be to you and your business over time.
Sure, immediate sales are great and necessary – but knowing that loyalty and trust exist between both parties means you’ll be working together on sale, after sale, after sale.