Relationship Selling: Everything You Need to Know

relationship selling
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Today, automation permeates everything. A lot of attention is paid to measurements and procedures rather than interpersonal connections in the realm of sales as well.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and bots are used widely. But does that imply that human connections are no longer necessary? The reality is that in the sales process, nothing can take the place of the warmth of interpersonal interactions.

For people that engage in B2B selling, sales are frequently complicated. On the other hand, there is no scarcity of sales tactics on the internet.

Whatever the sales experts may say, relationship selling is a sales technique that every salesperson needs to understand.

 relationship selling refers to

Let’s break down relationship selling in layman language.

What is Relationship Selling?

Relationship selling refers to the sales technique that places more emphasis on the bond between a salesperson and a potential customer than it does on the specifics of the product or the price being negotiated.

It is a type of trust-based relationship selling in which the buyer and seller become friends.

The contact between the seller and the buyer is highlighted rather than the product or service itself.

The relationship selling strategy is typically used by companies with lengthy sales cycles and high-ticket items and services to market.

For instance, the decision-making power of the potential customers for software lies in the hands of the decision-makers and is influenced by research, comparisons with rival products, and other factors.

Assume you and the prospect are getting along well. The likelihood of making a sale increases in that situation, and you may also be able to keep the customer for potential future upsells.

While this sales strategy usually works with expensive or valuable purchases, it also applies to consumer products.

Building long-term relationships with clients are the main goal, thus a contract that has been closed does not mark the end of the seller-customer relationship.

You might be surprised to learn that 68 percent of B2B customers are lost as a result of the sales rep’s lack of interest. It demonstrates how crucial it is to concentrate on relationship selling.

We know that every word has its opposite. In the aspect of selling, traditional selling or transactional selling is the opposite of relationship selling.

Relationship Selling and Traditional or Transactional selling

Relationship selling differs significantly from conventional methods of selling. The objective of transactional sales is to sell your product to the customer, collect the payment, and move on to new customers.

Because the sales cycle is brief and the consumer is unlikely to have any concerns regarding the goods, this strategy works effectively for low-ticket items.

Conversely, the buying decision to purchase selling high ticket items takes several weeks or months. You can’t just force your goods on a potential customer. You must carefully research your prospects’ needs, pain points, and how your solution precisely addresses each of these.

To increase sales, you must establish a long-lasting relationship with your prospects. When such happens, relationship selling should be preferred over transactional selling.

The Importance of Relationship Selling

Why is relationship selling important? Relationship-based selling does matter in a B2B setting. To succeed as a salesperson in the long run, you must do more than just offer products.

Here are some statistics to support this:

  • Gallop found that only 46% of consumers said that businesses fulfill their promises.
  • According to Biznology, 82 percent of decision-makers B2B sales strategies assume that sales reps are unprepared.
  • Businesses lose 68 percent of their clients not as a result of errors they make but rather as a result of carelessness and disregard.
  • Gaining a new customer is 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one.

These kinds of statistics highlight the significance of relationship selling and generally demonstrate an interest that extends beyond making a transaction.

The statistics show that sales reps should focus more on the consumer than on trying to sell them a product or service.

The relationship selling process

More individualized touchpoints are incorporated into your transactional sales process through the relationship selling process. This entails making more contact without coming out as overly driven by your own success.

Avoid making your touchpoints about yourself if you want to make contact without coming across as someone who is solely thinking about making sales. Concentrate on your prospects and clients, and tailor your outreach initiatives to be about something that directly relates to their objectives and passions.

Stages of Relationship Selling

Before we look at the relationship sales techniques, it is important to note that there are five (5) stages of relationship selling.

  • Awareness
  • Acquisition
  • Conversion
  • Retention
  • Advocacy

Awareness

Introducing your brand and your product or service to new clients is the first step in the sales process. You need to use a variety of mediums to get potential customers’ attention.

Additionally, you need to find the best leads and build relationships with them. Stronger links lead to deeper connections, building trust, and loyalty, all of which can subsequently result in a profitable sale.

Acquisition

The objective of the second stage of the life cycle is to turn prospects into customers. You must pay attention to the wants and issue the potential customer is now experiencing.

Actively listen to what they have to say while explaining how your goods or services can help them with their problems.

Finding opportunities to advance your views and promote your goods or services would be the key issue.

Conversion

The prospect may become a devoted customer once you capture their interest and provide them with a positive customer experience. Here, you need to employ your sales prowess.

Instead of concentrating on closing the sale, establish a strong rapport with the prospect. If you’re wanting to develop a long-term relationship, this is crucial.

Retention

In sales, building relationships is a continuous activity. You must take care of your relationship and prevent them from switching to another business offering the same goods and services. You must make your clients become devoted, enduring customers.

Remember that it is in your best interest to keep current customers as it is far simpler than finding new ones. To make customers feel appreciated, you must communicate with them and follow up frequently.

Relationship building springs growth and connections for the salesperson, firm, and customer.

Advocacy

If your clients are pleased with how your business runs its service, the last stage is when you want them to tell their friends about it. In most situations, the recommendation is effective.

Having learned the importance and stages of relationship selling, we need to get a detailed explanation of the relationship selling techniques. These techniques will guide you on how to start relationship selling.

Relationship Selling Techniques

Relationship selling is a somewhat antiquated method of closing deals, which is why some strategies could appear dated in the current era of technological innovation. To succeed, you should use a lot of these strategies.

  • Conduct research
  • Maximize your small-talk opportunities.
  • On the call, serve as a consultant.
  • Participate in social media.
  • Establish a mutually acceptable schedule to establish expectations.
  • Exercise active listening
  • Don’t push for an agreement.
  • Personal connection on a personal level
  • Be trustworthy and value commitments.
  • Prompt follow-up
  • Maintain contact
  • Offer exclusive perks
  • Be real

Let’s break them down one by one.

Conduct research as sales reps

 relationship selling definition

When a sales rep does their homework, they may design more individualized outreach and have an in-depth business conversation. They can go off course, pose more insightful queries, and offer information the customer is more likely to find beneficial.

Still, a sales rep might not have the time to thoroughly study every possibility in a market. It is advisable to examine your sales zone and determine your target market to save time.

Examine why those prospects bought the product, what prompted them to seek it out, and why they continued to use it by comparing them to comparable users in your user base.

These insights give you a broad overview of what your prospects are most likely to value.

To appear knowledgeable on the call, do comprehensive research on the buyer and their sector. Sales conversations can be customized to a greater extent the more well-read you are.

Maximize your small-talk opportunities

Never undervalue the influence of small chat.

Although the small chat that occurs at the beginning of a call about the weather or someone’s week may appear superficial, it frequently results in deeper interpersonal ties.

Being genuinely interested in the buyer and leaning into what grabs their attention are the keys to making good small conversations. Telling the buyer relatable anecdotes and posing follow-up questions help the sales process.

Looking at someone’s LinkedIn page for connections you share or talent they have mastered, and then asking about it, is one of the finest ways to get to know them.

For example, You are of the same college alumnus status or cheer for the same sports group, for instance. If their home is somewhere other than where you are, find out about it. Try to mention any ties you may have to the region, or inquire if they have any suggestions for a future trip.

However, not all clients love small conversations. Some customers like to go right to the point because they have hectic schedules or simply prefer it. If so, resist the urge to make small chats.

On the call, serve as a consultant

After the chit-chat is over, it’s time to get down to the business of the sales conversation.

Buyers don’t want a list of features and solutions because they already conduct the majority of their product research online. They frequently have a specific issue they need assistance with, and it is the rep’s job to demonstrate how the product may address that issue.

But first, sales representatives need to probe deeply enough to identify the issue.

Making those inquiries more precise will also benefit from background research. Ask about it if you notice that the client wants to use more of its new products or services and you have a solution that can make it happen. This makes the call more fruitful and increases your authority as an expert.

Participate in social media

Just as stated under maximizing your small chat opportunities, ensure you utilize this opportunity in building relationships with prospects through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Having a social media presence has several advantages. Sales representatives can gather customer personal details via this means.

The sales cycle is lengthy when selling to a business. Statistics show that salespeople who are active on social media can close more deals than 78% of their peers.

The research found that 84% of CEOs and VPs use social media to make a purchasing decisions.

B2B buyers respond to salespeople who provide them with relevant insights and prospects in over 62% of cases. This shows that sales relationship building works.

what is relationship selling

You can contact your potential consumer by using your social media account to stay in touch.

This will enable you to communicate with the person outside of the scope of your working relationship. This will benefit you because the potential customer will consider you while making their purchase decision.

You must, however, be sincere. You won’t be able to go very far if you are acting.

This technique is social selling. Utilizing your social network to identify the ideal customers, form dependable connections, and ultimately reach your sales goals is known as social selling.

Gain the trust of potential customers by offering your opinions and contributing insightful information to solve frequent problems. Have sincere talks and put the needs of the prospect before your own wants to sell. Also, check out B2B sales, SaaS sales and tech sales.

Establish a mutually acceptable schedule to establish expectations

Before each meeting, establish an agenda that everyone can agree upon. The main topics that the buyer and the salesperson wish to cover should be highlighted in the agenda. This breeds mutual respect and positive progress in the meeting.

Exercise active listening

You are mistaken if you believe that talking endlessly about the product would let you close sales. Without strong relationships between customers and sellers, one cannot anticipate great outcomes. You need to listen more and get involved in comprehending the needs and desires of your prospect in order to establish that connection and close more deals.

Long-term success is more crucial than any immediate financial benefit from the transaction, thus lending your ear will make you the customer’s favorite. You will gain greater knowledge about their needs and the challenges they encounter in exchange. You can adjust your sales pitch using the information you’ve acquired so that you eventually close a deal.

Sales gurus have developed the practice of listening to clients rather than using it as a one-sales tactic.

relationship selling examples

Here are some tips on how to communicate with prospects more effectively by using active listening:

  • Reiterate the prospect’s words to demonstrate that you paid close attention to what they said. This will make a big impression on the potential customer.
  • Ask prospects open-ended questions to which the response is not limited to a simple “yes” or “no” in order to elicit more information from them.
  • Maintain eye contact, smile, and nod your head occasionally while listening to the prospect.

Don’t push for an agreement

It is important to know that no dialogue is flawless. In relationship selling, disagreements and misunderstandings are inevitable but do not give in to the feelings that arise when you feel that familiar twinge in your stomach.

Instead, use it as a cue to explore more and seek clarification through questions. By doing this, further problems or obstacles are uncovered that were not initially discovered. As the agreement develops, resolving the underlying causes of those problems helps strengthen the partnership. Find how sales analysis reports can help the business.

Personal connection on a personal level

Prospective customers should become long-term partners for sales professionals. Strong salespersons-to-customer relationships will yield more sales.

Talk to them, learn about their hobbies, and keep up with what they publish on social media to come up with discussion starters.

It is pretty normal for people to feel better when they interact with others who share their interests. Talking about the customer’s hometown, place of birth, education, employment history, pets, interests, and hobbies will help you establish common ground.

Make sure your topic doesn’t prevent you from advancing your relationship.

 relationship based selling

Be trustworthy and value commitments

It is crucial for a salesperson to be a man of words. Prospective clients’ trust in you will be harmed if you don’t keep your word. Therefore, it’s crucial for building trust that you honor commitments and timelines.

In a similar vein, you must be truthful in all that you do. It can be challenging, but if you explain the fine print, pricing, and other aspects of the product to the customers, you can develop good relationships with them.

If the person you have approached doesn’t seem to be a good fit for the product, being honest with them may encourage them to recommend your goods or services to others. Therefore, if you are honest, you will ultimately succeed, if not right away.

Don’t be too determined to close a deal by ignoring your commitments. Playing a zero-sum game in your favor is dangerous.

It’s been said that those who are exceptional are given exceptions. Everyone is aware that mistakes may occur, and if there is already a strong sense of friendship and trust, we tend to be more tolerant of errors.

Prompt follow-up

The follow-up email is a fantastic chance to gain traction. Summarizing the important points covered at the meeting and the future steps is the first step in a successful follow-up.

Maintain contact

The process of developing a personal relationship benefits greatly from the post-sales discussion. Beyond keeping in touch, the discussions can provide the groundwork for an upsell or simply check on the customer’s satisfaction.

Offer exclusive perks

The prospect needs to feel exceptional. You ought to express your gratitude for having them and, if they end up becoming clients, make them feel very special. To honor the relationship you have with the prospect, you can give discounts or make unique offers.

This can cause a maximum effect on your sales pipeline.

 relationship based selling approach

Be real

You’ve probably heard the adage “Fake it ’til you make it,” but when it comes to sales, this is not the strategy you want to use.

When you fake it for the purpose of a sale, your prospects and customers can tell, and it is never good for a working relationship.

Being authentic is a critical tactic, and connecting with prospect’s personal lives by being a real person will help you sell relationships.

If you are being yourself and acting like a normal human being while working as a salesperson, you won’t have all the answers and may make mistakes.

Trust Based Relationship Selling Examples

Practical examples relationship selling techniques that have worked are;

Example One

Gwen is negotiating a potential $77,000 deal with a radio station on behalf of her employer, which sells studio equipment like computers, speakers, and others to businesses. Gwen researches the most recent market trends before her customer call to be ready for inquiries about how his business is adjusting to suit new demands.

Gwen spent most of her initial meeting with the client listening to their needs and providing information. She promised to find out and send a follow-up email by the following afternoon when she did not know the answers to all the questions during the call. The fact that the radio station is built in the Los Angeles region and the CEO had a young child who was interested in computers was among the other details she noted about the client.

Gwen made sure to bring up these particulars on subsequent calls by inquiring if they had been impacted by local wildfires recently. Additionally, she sent the client an email with details about a no-cost introduction to a radio station and computer safety course that his business was offering and that the CEO’s child might find interesting.

After several weeks of discussion, the radio station agreed to sign the contract. The client responded to Gwen’s note of thanks by expressing their appreciation for his efforts and attentive service, including the advice for the child.

Example Two

A company in Africa contacted a vehicle dealership company in Germany online and inquired about the cost of specific car models. The salesman kept texting the African company to send a representative down to Germany to take a look at the cars rather than giving them the car’s pricing.

The prospect lost interest in the cars since the follow-up was inherently clingy.

The salesperson at the vehicle dealership had the option of acting differently. A message similar to the following would appear better:

Hi! We appreciate your inquiry. The BMW automobile is currently available for $83,000 while the Audi goes for $76,000, but depending on your needs and how you make the purchase, there are other continuing specials. Also possible is a discount. Can we have a five-minute phone conversation to discuss your needs and the available options?

Final Thoughts

Relationship-based sales demonstrate that as a salesperson;

Even once a sale is completed, there will always be other deals. In fact, maintaining a positive relationship with a client or business will help you gain repeat business.

Additionally, if you win a business over even if they aren’t a potential client right away, you can eventually get compensated with a reference.

If used properly, the relationship-based selling strategy will produce positive outcomes in the form of devoted customers.

The relationship selling examples listed above check these boxes.

A relationship lasts long after the prospect has signed on the dotted line, unlike a sale, which is a one-time transaction.

With these techniques, you’ll build relationships with your customers that’ll allow you to cross-sell and upsell later without sacrificing the relationship. As a result, you’ll bring in more revenue, exceed quota, and shine as a top performer in your sales team. Check out some sales-related guides, churn rate, sales funnel templates, sales analysis reports and sales qualified leads.