Are You a Relationship Seller?

relationship seller

Are You a Relationship Seller?


What exactly is relationship building, or who is a relationship seller, these days?  And why is it so important?

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a spec for an executive level position in business development for a consulting services firm.  The hiring company wanted someone to help them find and close more deals.

They stressed qualities like natural relationship builder with a charter that includes relationship building and strategic selling, as well as using for relationship management.  Apparently, they believe that a strong relationship is critical to securing new business.  That’s what I call a relationship seller.

I had several thoughts when I first read this job posting:

  1. Every sales or business development professional claims they are strong relationship builders.  Of course they would!
  2. What does relationship builder mean to the hiring manager?
  3. How will you know if the person really is a strong relationship Builder?

So, what exactly is relationship building, or who is a relationship seller, these days?

I’ve had a customer acquisition charter (both sales and demand generation) for 30 years. It used to be said that you couldn’t truly develop a meaningful relationship with someone unless you met with them face-to-face. Likely numerous times.

This was one of the reasons many firms invested in geographically distributed sales offices.  It was critically important for sales reps to get in front of their prospects.

In today’s world of smart phones, Instant Messaging, Skype, email, social media, and web conferencing tools, it’s possible to meet someone, have numerous conversations, and build a solid relationship without ever being in the same room!

In fact, many early stage companies are building inside sales teams rather than spending big bucks to staff numerous remote sales offices.  The need to develop meaningful relationships has not diminished even as technology has given us more and more ways to communicate without sitting in the same room.

In fact, I would argue that developing meaningful relationships in the sales process is even more important in today’s world than ever before.

In today’s world, the fundamentals of initiating, developing, and maintaining, a healthy relationship with prospects takes on new dimensions of professionalism.   You can be social on professional networks like LinkedIn, but be careful to not mix this with more personal ones like Facebook or Twitter.  Connecting with a phone call, texting or even video conferencing on Skype or Vsee are very “high touch” new age communications.

The difference between those reps that consistently build solid relationships usually comes down to simple, daily disciplines:

Be nice.  Be polite.  Be on time.  Be prepared.

Follow up like you said you would. Listen, and be genuine.  Nice matters a lot, but nothing tops the perception that you are genuine in your efforts to help your prospects solve their problems or relieve their pain. Achieve this, and it won’t matter what method of communicating you use.

Think about why you like your closest friends:  Basically, your life is a little bit better when they’re around.  They don’t contact you only to ask favors or when they desperately need something at the end of the quarter.  If you ask them for help, you’re certain they will try to help.  You know that they genuinely care about your well-being.  You don’t expect them to be perfect, but you know you can count on them in a pinch.

Prospects are no different.  They want to know that they can count on you and your company.  They want to trust you and your company.  If you earn this trust and confidence, you’ll have the ‘relationship’ you desire in your sales process.

So why are these relationships so important?  Because sales reps create meaningful selling differentiation (and close more deals) simply by applying the core principles of good human relationships.

Yes, some of this can be facilitated via Social Media, but don’t be fooled into thinking this is enough.  When the time comes to make a purchase decision and they’re struggling between you and your competition, you want to make sure you win the relationship tie breakers.

You will succeed by being a better relationship seller and in the process create long lasting good will.

by Brian Bennett

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