Relationship Sales: 6 Tips for Meaningful Connections

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There are four elements to every sale:  financial, strategy, relationship, and execution.  Most professionals excel in one of the four elements, and some are proficient in two.  Very few possess the ability to incorporate all four elements of the sale on a consistent basis.  To reach your full potential as a salesperson, you should attempt to incorporate each of these four elements into each sale.  Let’s talk about relationship sales.

The cornerstone to lifelong success is building strong relationships.  Relationship sales come from strong relationships and partners who want to see you win.  It is less about selling, and more about helping people solve problems.  Relationship sales happen when a salesperson relies on their rapport with the customer instead of traditional sales tactics.  In order to succeed, you must have a large network full of people who trust and like you.  The result of effective relationship selling is that your contacts will bring you opportunities instead of you chasing them down.  This strategy only works if you genuinely want the best for other people and believe in what you are selling.  Here are 6 ways that you can build relationship sales:

Bring value first

People are naturally suspicious of salespeople they do not know.  In the 2006 issue of “Games and Economic Behavior,” Dr. Armin Falk from the University of Bonn wrote about the Theory of Reciprocity.  Essentially, people reward kind behaviors and punish unkind behavior.  Individuals measure your kindness not only by the outcome of your actions, but by the assumed intentions.  The takeaway?  Bring value to your contacts first without expecting anything in return.  Some people will reciprocate and bring value to you, while others may not reciprocate, but you will still solidify your brand.  For example, provide your contacts with articles, press releases, or ideas that add value to their business.  Help connect them to people in your network who can help them achieve their goals.  Remember that people naturally want to help others who have helped them.

Cultivate empathy

Empathy is essential to relationship sales, because it means that you truly understand what the other person feels.  Without empathy, you cannot fully understand your prospect or partner’s position, meaning that you will not be able to help them fully.  Many salespeople lack this quality and focus on what they want instead of what the prospect wants, and it costs them in sales and relationships that could lead to lifelong success.  You can cultivate empathy in your relationships by listening carefully, finding common interests, and sharing stories.  Empathy ultimately helps you solve another person’s problem as if it were your own problem, which is what relationship selling is all about.

Listen to understand

Try to understand before you try to be understood.  Stop multi-tasking during your conversations, and really focus on what the other person is saying.  Many people have a nasty habit of “listening” while formulating what they are going to say next.  Stop thinking about what you are going to say, and really listen to what your client or partner is saying.  Practice active listening by asking questions, leaning forward, and nodding your head.  Take notes, and mirror body language and tone.  Pause before you respond, and make sure that your response adds value to the other person instead of trying to one-up them.

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Make it personal

Relationships are strengthened with the right personal touches.  Find common ground and build meaningful relationships by taking time to get to know who you are working with.  Ask questions and find out about their goals, struggles, and hobbies.  Go out of your way when appropriate to develop relationships.  For example, ask your contact to meet you for coffee the next time you are in their area.  If you both enjoy basketball, send them a text before a big game to let them know you are thinking about them.  Above all, make sure that you are authentic and genuine.

Let others shine

Great leaders let others take the credit, and are happy to step out of the spotlight.  Giving credit to others shows gratitude, motivates them, and causes them to want to help you.  Find out what is important to your connections, and then strive to make them shine.  This will help you build a strong team within your own organization, and organic partnerships outside of your organization.  It helps you establish trust, and helps you take advantage of the Theory of Reciprocity again!

Communicate three times more than what feels normal

Communication helps foster positive working relationships, which builds trust and increases efficiency.  Your partners and clients appreciate frequent feedback and communication.  Share honest observations and important updates, whether good or bad.  Your partners and clients want to know what is going on, and should never feel blindsided by problems.  There are four channels of communication we typically use in the business world:  emails, phone calls, text messages, or face to face.  Speaking in person is the most effective form of communication, but you should ask your contact how they prefer to communicate.  For example, most of our partners prefer a text message over email.  A relationship can crumble quickly without effective communication.

 

Relationship sales are about helping people solve their problems instead of selling to them.  This strategy takes a long time to build because it is established on a foundation of trust and a solid reputation.  Your network has to be large enough to have many contacts who you can help, and you have to strategically build relationships with the right people.  Relationship selling is a powerful way to generate referrals and ultimately, lifelong success.  The end result is worth it- people will bring business to you and go out of their way to make you successful.

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