Traditional vs Relationship Selling
Most of the existing negative opinions and fears about the sales process are based on a traditional, formula method: Memorize 10 different ways to get an appointment, 40 kinds of closes, 20 ways to handle objections, etc. While these techniques can be very useful, they may also get in your way if used without first building a relationship with sales prospects.
When many small business people think about selling, they have a stereotypical image of the used-car salesman or the aluminum siding huckster as played by Danny DeVito in "The Tin Man." Characters such as these operate in a win/lose mode - an exchange where the seller tries to trick, persuade or coerce the customer to buy. In contrast, relationship selling is a win/win game. If the product or service being sold truly meets the needs of the buyer, both parties benefit as a result of the sale.
Today's customers have become more sophisticated and demanding of higher levels of customer service than ever before. They want someone they can trust who understands their needs and wants. This is particularly important during slow economic times, when most people make buying decisions, even small ones, very carefully.
Also keep in mind that the best sources of new business are existing customers and referrals from these customers. To help ensure the success of your venture, take the time to build relationships with your customers, rather than just focusing on making the immediate sale. Although relationship selling may take longer to produce results, it is definitely worth it in the long run. You will be well rewarded with high levels of repeat business and referrals from happy customers.
People tend to do business with those they like and trust. Look into your own buying experiences. Have you ever walked away from a transaction because you did not trust the salesperson to deliver what was being promised, or because you just plain didn't like the man or woman? And conversely, haven't you found yourself going back again and again to do business with helpful and honest salespeople?
How do you build trust in a business environment? Let your prospects and customers get to know you. Make sure they understand why you started your business, and why you believe in your product or service. You might also get involved in industry or neighborhood organizations where you can meet your prospects and customers in a different environment. They can experience another side of you, and get to know you as a person, not just as a vendor. While you are still selling the benefits of your product or service, you are also selling yourself.
Another way to build trust is to keep your word. From follow-up calls to delivering on time, keeping your word can be one of your most powerful sales tools. Of course unexpected things do happen, and sometimes you cannot keep your promises. When this occurs, communicate with your prospect or customer, and inquire whether the change is workable and what you can do to lessen the inconvenience. That way, you keep your trust level intact, or may even strengthen it as a result.