Stop me if this sounds familiar: Your salesperson tells you that the first meeting with the major account was a success. The prospect loves the product! Fast forward a few more meetings with the buyer, and now the deal is bogging down. After another month or two, the deal finally dies.
We all have heard the old sales adage: “People buy from people they like.” And a significant body of behavioral science research supports this statement. According to famed psychologist Dr. Robert Cialdini, liking is one of the six principles of influence outlined in his seminal book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” When you have a strong relationship with a buyer, you tend to have more influence with that buyer. That means the buyer respects your experience and advice, they're more likely to value your contribution to the decision process, and there is a greater chance of such buyer becoming a “long-term” customer. Follow these four strategies to build a strong relationship with your buyer, and you'll go a long way towards having an easier time closing more business.
With the introduction of new sales enablement technologies and the shift to, technology-driven, inside sales reps, do relationships with customers still matter?
One of the core skills of successful selling is how well you can influence buyers. When you have influence, the buyer is more open to your message, respects your advice, gives you access to key decision makers, and, ultimately, buys from you. One technique you can use to build your influence with a buyer (especially with b2b buyers) is by demonstrating your expertise—i.e., the depth of understanding you bring to the sales conversation.
“I'm not upset that you lied to me, I'm upset that from now on I can't believe you.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche Trust is essential to successful selling. When the buyer trusts you, the buyer believes your promises, gives you access to power, takes your advice, and gives you referrals. A buyer won’t buy from you unless he or she trusts you. Think about a time when you were the buyer, and you thought the seller was not trustworthy. Why did you think that? Perhaps the seller made a promise and then didn’t follow through, or maybe the seller told you what you need before getting to know you. Whatever the reason, for most of us, building trust takes time, but can be broken in an instant. Research suggests the following four behaviors are key to building trust in sales.
Let's take a moment to think about the kind of relationship you have with your typical client. Do you have access to high-level decision makers? Or are you stuck talking to gatekeepers and technical buyers? Do you struggle to differentiate your products and services? Are your buyers raising price objections? In day to day selling, we're not thinking about the "kind" of relationship we have with our clients. But these can affect your sales performance, e.g. the length of your sales cycle, pricing pressure, and the number of companies with which you have to compete.