Sales
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3 minutes

What is Relationship Selling?

November 19, 2021

Traditional sales techniques may not be enough to keep your B2B relationships ongoing. Consumers today are more aware and skeptical of the buying process and don't like to be treated like a "quick sale." 

Relationship selling is the solution that allows prospects and returning customers to be approached without scaring them. Using this strategy, it's possible to build a solid long-term relationship with customers that encourages trust and customer loyalty. 

What is Relationship Selling?

Relationship selling prioritizes the relationship between the salesperson and potential customer over other factors, like the price or details of the product. The salesperson is focused on providing value and connecting with the potential customer and waits until they've built a strong relationship before attempting to close the sale. 

Relationship first. Sale second. Why? Let's dig in. 

The goal is to create a long-term relationship with the customer, not a one-time sale. Relationship selling strongly supports a company's ability to decrease churn, increase renewals and upsells. 

Relationship selling does not end with a sale. Instead, the deal is the beginning of a long-term relationship between the company and the customer.

Why is Relationship Selling Important?

Today, it is essential that the sales cycle is more personal than ever before. The customer journey often begins before a customer even directly engages with a company or their product. This removes the control of the company to have complete control over the buyer's journey, emphasizing the importance of the moment when do directly engage. The days of a customer being but a number on a spreadsheet is gone.  Instead,  they must feel valued and feel trust in the companies they are buying from. 

That's why relationship selling techniques are essential.  Customers are more aware of common sales tactics and are more skeptical during the buying process than ever before. They not only have resources to determine whether a company is trustworthy, but they also are aware of their many options before deciding to commit their dollars to a business. 

Instead of being blatantly sold too, customers want to be heard and develop a connection with the salespeople they speak with. By listening, giving valuable feedback, and building a relationship with customers, you can instill a sense of trust and mutual value between yourself and your prospective customers. Once your customers trust you and feel they know you well, they are more likely to buy from you and remain loyal to your brand. 

Relationship selling is important because it can lead to more reliable long-term sales than other strategies and can increase customer loyalty along the way. Your familiarity and trusting personality will drive more sales than a typical ad or slogan could ever inspire.

Is Relationship Selling the Same as Social Selling?

The short answer is no; they are not the same. Relationship selling and social selling are different sales strategies that can be used separately but work very well together. Social selling is a sales and lead generation technique that involves salespeople directly interacting with customers on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It is easy to see why these two strategies are not mutually exclusive when considered alongside relationship selling.

As technology grows, more people connect and build relationships solely online. Because of this, relationship building must, at some point, leads to a friend request or direct message on social media. Salespeople practicing relationship selling often take advantage of social media as a helpful tool that directly connects them with their customers where they spend their time. When used in combination with a direct conversation, social selling can keep relationships between salespeople and customers alive and prosperous far longer than they would without social media platforms.

The Benefits of Relationship Selling

As we've discussed, there are numerous benefits to relationship selling. The best part is that relationship selling is often a win-win scenario. Your customer wins by building a relationship with a trusted ally that will help them decide which product to buy, and you will win by bringing in more sales and long-term repeating customers. Here are some more benefits that you'll see when you start using relationship selling techniques:

  • Build Trust

Wary and hesitant customers may take a while to convert to sales, but that doesn't mean that they are worthless leads. Once you establish a trustworthy relationship with a wary customer, you've secured that customer's trust and support for years to come. Your customer's loyalty is worth more than a one-time sale. Their trust and support can lead to long-term contracts and years of repurchases. 

  • Get to Know Your Customers

No market research or surveying can identify your customers' needs better than a  direct conversation with them. Surprisingly, genuine conversations can be hard to come by in new sales processes today. Relationship selling prioritizes the time spent getting to know the customer and gives you a chance to learn what issues and needs are essential to your key demographic.

  • Stand Out from the Competition

Customers are constantly being sold to, whether by billboards, online ads, junk mail, or spam phone calls. A personal conversation is sure to make you stand out from the competition. When you address customers' needs and answer their questions, you're adding value to the sales process that one-time ads could never accomplish. Prospective and existing customers will be glad to answer your messages instead of the unfamiliar barrage of impersonal ads they see every day.

The Relationship Sales Process

So, how exactly does relationship selling work? Here's a breakdown of the sales process and how you can efficiently approach prospective clients with relationship building in mind.

  • Identify the right prospects.

In the past, you may have gone after every prospect that looked even slightly interested in your company. Now, since the goal is to build a relationship with your prospects, you'll want to pursue only prospects that match your ideal customer personna and those compatible with you and your objectives. Where do you find them? Well, you may look at your MQLs but you also should probably look at your ecosystem of partnering companies. This is something that Reveal can help you with. In terms of finding high quality leads, leads generated from your partner ecosystem convert up to 3X faster with higher win-rates and larger deal sizes. This only reinforces the value of relationship selling. 

As mentioned, the customer journey often beings at a 3rd party. The benefit of this is that if that 3rd party has already established trust with your prospective customer, they will also trust the referred company or product. This eases one of the greatest challenges of any account executive or business development representative. By leveraging the partner ecosystem, relationship selling is more fluid and successful than other sales techniques. 

Learn more about how B2B tech sales teams can leverage their partner ecosystem by clicking here

21 Rules of Partnerships of 2021

Learn from the most notable leaders in partnerships and alliances. For example learn how to leverage your ecosystem from Jay Mcbain, how to plan your partner program with Mike Brigman, and what to include in your KPIs with Elliott Smith.

Thank you! Here's the link to download:
Secrets to Success: The 21 Rules for Partnerships
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