Relationship Selling Is The Way to Win Buyers' Hearts

relationship selling

Relationship selling is a sales tactic that is based on building solid relationships with prospects rather than using old-​school transactional tactics. This technique doesn’t mean you don’t ever discuss features or pricing; it means that those details aren't the focus of your selling strategy. By adopting relationship selling techniques, you are “adding value and being committed to your prospects,” explains Shawn Finder for AutoKlose. “It’s these two factors that make relationship selling perfect for products and services with a high average selling price – customers know that they can rely on you to sort out any potential issue they might have even after the purchase.”

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This process also aligns with the wants of modern buyers. SalesFuel’s Voice of the Buyer study asked B2B buyers what attributes they value in a seller. 57.4% say that a seller knowing how their product or service will specifically help them, the buyer, reach goals is a top attribute. Over half say that caring about them and their business is important. If you practice relationship selling, you’ll easily embody these traits.

How to put relationship selling into practice

In his article, Finder highlights tactics that sellers can use to make their process less transactional and more relationship focused. He notes that while relationship selling takes time, it’s highly worth it. The more time and effort you invest, the likelier your chances of building a trusting relationship that makes a buyer want to work with you.

Find common ground

Like with any relationship, the more you know about the person, the deeper the connection. “As relationship selling is based on learning as much as possible about your prospects and understanding their point of view, research plays a crucial role as the first step of this approach,” Finder explains.

You can find ways to connect with the prospect by researching not only their business, but also their hobbies or interests. No need to invest a ton of time or stalk the prospect; simply use easily accessible resources, like their LinkedIn profile or company website, to delve a bit deeper. Look for commonalities, such as a favorite type of music, a shared hobby or a mutual connection. Each common ground you find can serve as a steppingstone to a stronger connection.

And like other relationships, relationship selling is a two-​way street. As Finder points out, “Don’t be afraid to get personal and share something about yourself if you know that they’d be interested in talking about it.  Treat this relationship as any other that you’d like to build and cherish. It’s essential to be sincere and genuine and leave your usual salesperson personality in the background.”

For even more insight into how to efficiently gather intelligence, download SalesFuel’s free e‑book, The 7Cs of Pre-​Call Intelligence.

Don’t talk too much

Buyers want to be heard. “Talking too much about how great their products are instead of what they can do for me” is a deal-​breaker for nearly 35% of B2B buyers, according the Voice of the Buyer study.

Remember, relationship selling isn’t about you, it’s about the prospect. What they say, feel, need, and want take precedence over your desire to pitch. By giving the prospect center stage to communicate freely and taking an active listener role, you will be showing your genuine interest in them.

There’s no need to push your agenda and talk about your product or service at this point – you’ll have an opportunity to do it later when your prospect is ready to listen to your offer,” he adds.

You may not even realize you are talking too much; nerves, enthusiasm and impatience can drive you to control conversation. SalesFuel shared tips to understand why you may be talking too much and how to remedy the issue. Suggestions include asking open-​ended questions that encourage dialogue from the buyer, as well as coaching to learn and practice better active listening.

Be an active listener

As previously mentioned, one of the benefits of toning down how much you talk is gaining the opportunity to actively listen. As a previous post explains, there is more to active listening than just “hearing” the prospect:

Active listening is “the concept of listening that keeps you engaged in a conversation in a positive way…. Active listening a good skill because it involves:

  • Being non-​judgmental
  • Being curious
  • Patience
  • Asking questions
  • Reflecting back
  • Asking for clarification
  • Summarizing the essence of a conversation

Relationship selling requires that sellers take on this active listener role. Apart from gleaning valuable insights into the buyer and their business, you also demonstrate that you care about them and what they have to say. “It shows that you genuinely care about providing the best service and customer experience, which is one of the most critical factors when it comes to making a purchasing decision,” Finder writes.

This is a valuable skill to hone and one that will boost your value in the eyes of buyers. It can take practice, but your efforts will pay off. Check out our past posts about active listening for tips to improve this vital relationship selling skill. 

Connect with their head AND their heart

By shifting from transactional to relationship selling, you’re taking control of the trajectory of your career. With this mindset, you will be aligning your methods to what today’s buyers want. You'll also set yourself apart from others who simply won’t evolve. And Finder reminds sellers that while integrating these practices into your process may lengthen the sales cycle, “if you persistently build a relationship with a prospect that has the potential to become your customer, it’s worth investing your time and energy into the entire process.”

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

Jessica Helinski

Jessica Helinski

Jessica is a senior research analyst for SalesFuel focusing on selling to SMB decision-​makers. She also reports on sales and presentation tips for SalesFuel Today. Jessica is a graduate of Ohio University.