You may have heard the saying “People buy from people they like.” It’s so much easier to sell when you have a sales relationship. The relationships you create in sales can get you a lot more business- – and make your selling a lot easier, too. But how do you build sales relationships? Here are some ways to get started.
Start with a targeted list of prospects. How can you ask for help from people you know when you don’t who you need help with? Start by identifying the top 10 accounts you want to pursue and the criteria for being selected. Make sure they are good prospects for your company. Consider location, name recognition, numbers of employees and other criteria that you specify. Next, identify what you already know about these targeted accounts. Then set your priorities of who are the most important to pursue.
The first relationships to tap into are your key business associates. These could be companies who provide services to your company or even other customers. Share your list with them. I recently conducted a training program where I asked the participants if they knew a particular company I was trying to reach. One participant did and is arranging an introduction. I had been trying to get a return phone call for months. Now I’ll get my meeting. Who does your company buy from? Think how much time you will save on prospecting when a supplier relationship allows you to get directly to the decision maker you are trying to reach.
You can also plant seeds to build relationships with prospects. One company targeted a major airline company. There was just one problem. The company’s competition is a long time supplier. The sales professional set up an appointment with the decision maker anyway. She said, “I’m coming not to sell you anything. I want to see what I can learn about your business to see where we can be of assistance down the road.” By building the relationship before the sale, the sales professional hopes to apply what she learns and later earn the call to buy when her customer’s needs develop.
Building a relationship with anyone requires information. Try to learn as much about the people with whom you want to build a relationship. You can find out birthdays, children’s names, favorite restaurants, and interests like the opera. Knowing this information builds relationships. And building relationships builds loyalty. Put the information where you can easily retrieve it. That’s the only way you are going to use it. Send birthday cards to customers and prospects. Invite them to functions that they’ll be interested in. Send articles that specifically interest them. Are you wondering how to get the information? Just ask. It will give you another reason to contact your prospects.
A very important relationship to create is one with your manager. When salespeople have difficulty getting their phone calls returned, a manager can be a great resource to use. When a manager calls a prospect and has an important title, what you find is that prospects are more likely to return the phone calls. Take your boss with you on sales calls, too. Just plan a strategy for who is going to answer which types of questions. A manager adds credibility to the salesperson. A manager can reinforce what you have already told your customer. Your manager may hear a customer problem and have a contact you don’t and can solve your customer’s problem.