Today everything is about automation. In the sales world, too, there is a lot of focus on the metrics and processes rather than relationships. You will find the use of bots and AI everywhere. But does that mean the human-to-human bond is obsolete? The truth is that no technology can replace the warmth of human relationships in the sales process. Sales are usually complex for those who are into B2B selling. However, there is no shortage of sales techniques available all over the internet. But, no matter what sales gurus say, one sales tactic that you must master as a salesperson is ‘Relationship Selling’. In this article, I am going to talk about 10 Trust-based relationship selling examples.
Relationship selling refers to a sales technique that emphasizes the connection between a salesperson and a potential customer instead of getting into product details and price negotiation.
In place of putting the spotlight on the product or service, the main focus is on the seller-buyer interaction.
The relationship selling tactic is generally for businesses having high ticket size products and services to sell, with long sales cycles.
For software, the potential client may decide because there is research, comparison with other contenders, and much more. Suppose you are having a good relationship with the prospect. In that case, the possibility of making a sale increases, and you may likely be able to retain the customer for future upsells too.
It is all about building a long-term relationship with customers, and that means that a closed deal is not the end of the seller-customer connection.
Now, get into the buyer’s shoes and notice how relationship selling is all around you without you knowing it.
You would visit the same tailor over and over again because you like him as a person.
You go to the same salon every month, and the staff there knows you by name and has your preferences in mind.
It is a form of trust-based relationship-based selling where a customer builds a rapport with the seller or business.
Relationship selling has five stages, and they are the following:
The first stage involves reaching out to new customers and making them aware of your brand and your product or service. You have to capture the attention of prospects through different media.
Also, you have to identify the right leads and foster relationships with them. With stronger bonds come deeper connections, trust, and loyalty that can materialize as a successful sale later on.
In the second stage of the life cycle, the aim is to convert prospects to customers. You have to listen to the prospect’s needs and the problem they currently face. You have to listen to them actively and tell them how your products or services can resolve their issues.
The main challenge would be to identify the opportunities to put your perspective ahead and talk about your product or service.
Once you gain the prospect’s attention and give them a good customer experience, it can turn them into loyal customers. You have to put your sales skills to use here.
Shift the focus of making the sale and build a good connection with the prospect. This is extremely important if you’re looking for building long-term relationships.
Relationship building is an ongoing process in sales. You have to nurture your relationship and not give them the chance to go to some other company providing the same product and service. You have to turn your customers into long-term loyal customers.
Keep in mind that retaining a customer is way easier than acquiring new ones. That is why you must get in touch with customers and follow up regularly to make them feel valued.
The final stage is when you want your customers to recommend your product service to their peers if they are happy with your service. Recommendation works well in most cases.
In the B2B scenario, relationship selling does matter. Going beyond just selling a product is important if you want to win in the long run as a salesperson.
Below are some stats to prove this point:
Businesses lose 68 percent of their customers not due to mistakes they commit but due to the lack of concern and interest.
Biznology says 82 percent of B2B decision-makers think sales reps are not prepared.
It is 5 to 25 times costlier to gain a new customer than retaining an existing one.
The above stats indicate that it is important for salespeople to show interest in the customer rather than in the sale of their product or service.
Relationship selling is a rather old-school way of making sales and that is why certain techniques may seem to be outdated with the technological advancement in today’s age. However, many such techniques should be adopted for success.
Here are some of them that salespeople can practice:
If you think that speaking non-stop about the product will close the deal, you are wrong! The buyer-seller connection is essential, and without it, you can’t expect fantastic results. To build that connection, you need to speak less and get involved in understanding the requirements and wants of your prospect.
Lending your ear will make you the customer’s favorite, which is more important in the long run than your personal gain from the deal. In return, you will learn more about their requirements and the difficulties they face. The knowledge gathered can be used to tweak the sales pitch so that you can close a deal eventually.
Listening to customers should be inculcated as a habit in salespeople and should not remain a mere sales technique.
Here is how you can make better use of active listening when you interact with prospects:
1. Show that you listened carefully to the prospect by repeating what they told you. This will leave a lasting impression on the prospect.
2. Get more details from prospects by asking them open-ended questions to which the answer cannot just be a ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
3. While listening to the prospect, you should nod your head in between, maintain eye contact, and smile.
When you are into B2B selling, the sale cycle is long. You can use the time in hand to get close to the prospect with social media websites like Facebook and LinkedIn. Your presence on social media can be beneficial in many ways.
Also, stats say that salespeople who are there on social media are able to sell more than 78 percent of their colleagues.
According to a study, 84% of CEOs and VPs turn to social media to make buying decisions.
What you can do is use your social media account to stay in touch with your potential customer.
You can wish them a happy birthday and leave a comment on their new profile pic.
This way, you will be able to interact with the person out of your professional boundaries. This will work in your favor because when the time comes to make the buying decision, the potential customer will think of you.
However, you must be genuine. If you are faking it, you won’t be able to tread too far.
Salespeople should build long-term relationships with potential customers.
Talk to them and understand what their interests are, follow what they are posting on social media so that you can get topics to start a conversation.
It is quite natural for individuals to feel better when connecting to those who have things in common with them. You can find common ground by talking about the customer’s native/hometown, schooling, University, pets, job, interests, and hobbies.
Make sure you don’t choose a topic that can’t build your relationship ahead.
As a salesperson, it is imperative to be a man (or woman!) of words. If you don’t honor your commitment, the trust that prospects have in you will get damaged. It is therefore essential to stick to deadlines and do what you promise.
On a similar note, you have to be honest with what you are doing. This can be tricky, but when you present the product details, pricing, and the fine print clearly to the prospects, you can build a great relationship.
In case the product doesn’t seem to suit the person you have approached, your honesty can make the person refer your product or services to others. So with honesty, you will win, maybe not immediately but eventually.
You have to make the prospect feel special. You should show them how grateful you are to get in touch with them and if they do turn into customers, make them feel extra special. It could be discounts or special offers just to celebrate the bond you have with the prospect.
Before jumping onto the relationship selling examples, let us have a look at the three levels of relationship marketing:
Customize your product or service for the customer using the information you have about the customer’s interests and preferences. Being customer-centric would help you strengthen your relationship with the customer.
Level 2-Giving rewards for loyalty
Rewarding customers for their loyalty towards your brand will go a long way in solidifying your relationship with them. Giving special discounts and offers to existing customers as they make new purchases is an excellent way of remarketing.
Level 3-Getting in touch with high-value customers personally
High-value customers are the main contributors to the revenue and profit of a business. Therefore, you have a personal relationship with them. Request them for feedback and provide them with tailor-made solutions and products.
The primary purpose is to make customers feel that they are valued even though the strategy of every business is different. You have to understand the needs of the prospects and suggest only those products that they need. There is a need to build trust and a strict NO to traps.
Here is an example of an automobile sale:
A prospect approached a car showroom online and wanted to know the price of a particular model. Instead of telling him the car’s price, the sales rep was messaging him constantly to come down and look at the cars.
The follow-up was clingy by nature which made the prospect lose interest in the car.
How would this look when handled with a different strategy, i.e. using the connection of relationship selling?
The sales rep at the car showroom could have behaved differently. A message like the one below would look better:
Hi! Thanks for your query. The car’s current price is $40,000, but right now, there are many ongoing deals based on what you require and how you make the purchase. You can even get a discount. Can I speak to you for 5 minutes on the phone to understand your needs and then look at the options?
The above example of relationship selling looks more convincing where the potential customer is the center of attraction, and there is no attempt at hiding anything (in this case, the cost of the cart)
Now, let’s move on to a few brands that are using relationship selling actively:
Starbucks is not just a business but also a cultural icon. It has a strong presence on social media, where you can see a lot of custom content. Starbucks is quite regular in sending emails to their customers and keeps them updated about their latest product launches and offers.
Their customer-centric strategy’s success is quite evident as most people line up outside Starbucks to get their favorite beverage or get to drink from a specially-themed cup.
Another example of relationship selling is the strategy Salesforce uses. To keep their business afloat with recurring business, they have friendly relations with CMOs, CFOs, and CEOs of different Fortune 500 companies. This is a classic example of relationship selling where the focus is on building personal relationships with potential customers.
Though the end goal is closing a deal, it is not aggressive by nature. You build things around people and not products.
There is an exclusive online store for high-volume corporate customers. Dell tailors the process of ordering based on the needs of the corporate buyers. This only helps in speeding up the process and reducing the hassles involved.
Offering better service makes sure that the corporate customers stay loyal to Dell.
The mail marketing firm sends birthday cards to clients every year and. The hand-written cards bring a personal feeling, and clients think that they are essential to the firm. It may be a small gesture, but it goes a long way in leaving a lasting impression on the customer’s mind.
American Airlines have a frequent flyer program where they reward loyal customers with free flight travel, special discounts, and upgrades. It makes the customers feel special, and they would likely want to fly only with American Airlines. It is a win-win situation for both the airlines and the passengers.
The Apple store has a friendly atmosphere that helps customers get familiar with Apple’s computers and gadgets. The main aim is to make technology seem fun. The employees attend to people’s grievances directly, giving the impression that their customer support is the best.
Volvo joined hands with Lego to help children learn the basics of vehicle safety. It has gone down with concerned parents who want to teach their children all about road safety. Ultimately, this led to building trust.
The above relationship-based selling examples reveal the effectiveness of the technique.
Relationship-based selling proves that:
In sales, even when the deal is closed, it is never the last deal. In fact, you can get ongoing deals by being in the good books of your customer.
Also, if you win the heart of someone who is not an immediate customer, you might get rewarded in the long run with a referral.
The tactic of relationship selling is indeed one that will deliver good results in the form of loyal customers if you do it the right way.