Sales or business development as it is commonly known as, is nothing new. People have been selling to each other since the days of the cave man. The difference between now and then is that relationships are increasingly becoming important during the sales process. One just needs to look at the explosion of social media to see how valuable relationships are to the sales process.
This poses a problem because businesses tend to concentrate their efforts on gaining new business and not about meeting their current client needs. Current clients provide plenty of business development opportunities which can be leveraged to create additional revenue streams. How? Well if you have met the needs of your clients, trust will exist, therefore being able to up-sell or provide additional services is easy to implement. However, businesses often fail at this because they do not keep in contact with their clients on a regular basis. It’s imperative to stay in contact at least every three or six months, as this helps to build the relationship and shows you value the client. It also helps to avoid the situation of a client feeling like they are only contacted when they are being ‘sold’ to.
What can my business do to develop relationship selling strategies?
Relationship selling strategies are simple to implement and often just require a change of mindset across your marketing and sales departments this can be achieved by implementing the following:
- Ensure style guides for sales manuals, marketing proposals and presentations use collaborative and inclusive language. Gone are the days when third person language is the norm. The proposal should make the client feel that the project will be a collaborative effort between the two firms. Forget ‘us’ vs ‘them’
- Ensure that clients are provided with a choice of three options, this rule is the same regardless as to whether they are a new or current client. Three choices demonstrate that you have put thought into the client, but also allows the client to feel that they have a choice in the matter as well.
- Demonstrate the intangible as well as tangible benefits behind the relationship. Yes, tangible benefits such as financial indicators are important, but clients/customers will always pay more for intangible benefits such as time reduction, increased staff morale and so forth.
- Remain authentic in all dealings with the client. This is the most important tool when handling clients, once authenticity is gone you can NEVER get it back.
- Close strongly. Always make it clear what you want from the relationship and what the client can expect in all communications. This helps to manage customer expectations and minimize confusion.
If you are stuck on additional ideas with your client, remember the rule of eight that for every item/project/task there are eight other ways that it could be used.Did you know? there are 1760 hours in a year, not including holiday time this equates to about 1400 hours that a full-time sales person could use to generate revenue for your company. Can you honestly say that your company does this?
To reiterate: don’t think about your business development team as just sales, they should be seen as trusted advisors who build relationships – it will make a big difference to your future profitability if you do!
Until next time,
Cents and Sensibility
Julia Taine, Executive Director of Vent2Me, is a marketing problem solver and mentor. A mover and a shaker, Julia sees a niche in an industry, and takes it, by making it her own. Julia started Vent2Me, because people she knew were struggling with their online presence and their digital strategies. Julia knew she could help these people, and so here she is today.