Relationships in sales are one of the most vital components of a winning strategy. But like any other relationship, they can be tough to manage and maintain. The more thoughtful sellers are about their relationships, the better each connection will be, and consequently, their sales will grow. But, mistakes do happen, whether it's due to a fixed mindset, simple mix-up or misguided efforts.
Common mistakes affecting your relationships in sales
“Relationships are hard. The whole romantic comedy genre is based on that fact,” J.C. McKissen acknowledges in an article for LinkedIn. “The same is true for sales relationships. Creating a genuine connection with a prospect or customer is easier said than done. And there are a million ways to mess it up.”
Delving into the topic, McKissen spoke with other sales professionals to highlight the biggest mistakes that sellers make when it comes to their relationships. They not only shared what they believe are very common missteps, but also what sellers can do to repair relationships when they do make a mistake.
Sales relationships shouldn’t mimic friendships
The first one he discusses is confusing your relationships in sales for friendships. Now this can be a tricky situation for sellers. Yes, it’s important to connect with prospects, to engage them and, ultimately, build strong rapport with them. But McKissen cautions against creating personal, rather than professional, connections. Rather than focusing on being a friend, focus on being a solution provider. Make helping the prospect, not befriending them, the ultimate goal. As McKissen points out, “There’s nothing buyers appreciate more than when sellers make value the centerpiece of their relationship-building efforts.”
If you find you’re pushing too hard to be friends, take a step back and refocus on the value that you can bring as a seller rather than a friend. What solutions can you provide? How can you earn their trust? Which pain points are the most pressing? By addressing questions like these, you are strengthening the relationship rather than pursuing friendship.
Keeping relationships “exclusive” isn’t a good idea in sales
Relationships in sales are actually better if they aren’t completely exclusive. Devoting all your attention to only one contact at a company isn’t a good idea, especially as turnover can be high, and there is likely more than one person involved in the purchase decision.
SalesFuel reported that the buying process has been changing, with buying groups becoming commonplace. Sellers need to adapt by seeking to build relationships with more than one contact. Multi-threading is an effective tactic for doing this, and research supports this. As McKissen reports, “Data from LinkedIn’s survey of nearly 7,000 sellers found that top-performing salespeople were 13% more likely to multi-thread their accounts.”
And, Adam D’Angelo, SVP of sales and customer service for UserGems, shares that their findings also reveal boosted success for sellers who don’t rely on one contact. “Single-thread deals have a 5% win rate,” he writes. “In contrast, multi-thread deals or deals where you’re in contact with up to five people at a target account have up to a 30% win rate. That’s a staggering 6x improvement!”
While you shouldn’t neglect your first contact at a company, don’t make them the only priority. Instead, work with them to expand your network to include their colleagues. This will help you build a strong support system of champions and safeguard your efforts if someone does leave their position.
While these two common mistakes seem minor, making sure you correct them (or avoid them completely) can have a major impact. Reps should strive to make their relationships in sales as strong as possible. For even more advice on strengthening those connections, check out SalesFuel’s professional tips here.
Photo by Edmond Dantès