Modern sales and the lost art of building relationships
The sales industry seems to experience major changes every 5-10 years. Many of these shifts are the result of changing technologies.
Others are related to cultural changes.
But one of the most confusing changes over the past decade has been the lack of personal attention to customers.
Why do customer relationships matter to your business?
Over the years, we have seen an influx of sales and marketing automation tools in the business world. The result? If there is some aspect of your sales strategy that you want to optimize, there is an app, software, or innovative tool that will help you take yourself out of the equation and automate your interactions. But is this a positive development?
Sometimes automation is good. This can save time, improve accuracy, and provide greater consistency. But too much automation can damage the health and viability of your business. This is because automation undermines and compromises your ability to connect with potential customers on a personal level and build relationships with them.
Clients are people. What do people care about? People spend almost every second of every day thinking about how they can feel comfortable, happy, healthy, or safe. Almost every decision they make is a decision to put themselves first.
This mentality may seem overly selfish, but it is part of natural selection and the survival of the fittest. For millions of years, the animals that lasted the longest were the ones that could take care of themselves.
All people take care of themselves – and this includes your sales prospects and customers. And if you want to appease this fundamental element of humanity, you must make your clients feel special and important.
Relationships address their sense of importance and belonging. When people understand that others care about them, it confirms that they are important. In the business world, as in personal life, this plays a role in how they make decisions.
Here are 4 tips for building stronger customer relationships:
1. Make the most of your first communication with your client.
When you use traditional sales language, potential customers can't help but label you with a negative "salesperson" stereotype. This makes it almost impossible for them to treat you from a position of trust.
Your first meeting with a potential client is often the most important. It sets the tone and creates the first impression. But if you spend too much time focusing on sales, you will set the wrong tone. Instead, you need to establish a genuine connection.
2. Listen more and talk less.
Most or at least half of your time spent with potential clients, you should listen to them.
When you listen, you have the ability to see where people are from. They will tell you what they want and why they want it. This eliminates much of the guessing game that often exists in the traditional sales process.
3. Find a shared experience.
If you want your relationship with potential customers to go beyond the product or solution you sell, you need to find a common language. Whether it's sports, mutual friends, Hobbies or interests, a shared experience will bring you together and boost your sales. Over time, these elements will give you the opportunity to rekindle a relationship.
4. Be transparent in your actions.
You can't hold back your relationship. Eventually there comes a point where you may have to create some excitement.
The deeper the conversations, the more transparency you need to provide. Sometimes you actually have to tell your customers something they don't want to hear. This is normal. Like any relationship – sales or otherwise – honesty helps both sides move on.
You should stop selling and start building meaningful relationships with potential customers. The person at the other end of the phone, email, or dinner table is a person with special needs, desires, and frustrations. When you meet this person, you will understand what is important to them, which gives you the opportunity to build a strong relationship based on real connections and ideas.
Now you have a chance to change your sales strategy and include actions that prioritize building relationships. If you don't, one of your competitors will beat you sooner or later.