The sales game has always come with its own unique set of challenges. Between cold calling and tracking prospects, sales is one profession that requires a combination of endless perseverance and a little bit of luck. But as luck would have it, leveraging personal relationships is a simple and effective way to shorten the sales cycle and drive more results.
The concept known as relationship-based selling, combined with social media, is changing the way people do business. Because so many people are connected, people tend to want to do business with those with whom they have a shared connection. According to LinkedIn, 73 percent of people prefer working with sales professionals recommended by someone they know.
Relationship-based selling does require an element of savvy to make it successful. To start, personal introductions are based upon trust and likability, all of which are part of the equation. So this era of relationship-based selling, the following is a list of 5 ways to approach and succeed at relationship-based selling.
5 Ways to Approach Relationship-Based Selling
- Understand Mutual Connections. When prospecting, always look for a shared connection. By thinking about a person as an individual, rather than just a name on a call sheet, it helps to identify mutual connections and common ground. This approachable methodology will help you build rapport with prospects more easily.
- Ask for Introductions. When you identify an opportunity with a shared connection, asking for an introduction is a great way to approach business. It can be hugely beneficial—there is a transfer of trust that can dramatically reduce the sales cycle when someone makes a qualified introduction. Don’t abuse these requests, however, and when you think an introduction is warranted, explain why you want an introduction, what you are offering and how it will benefit the prospect. This will give anyone making an introduction the right tools, while also putting them at ease with trusting them with your relationship.
- Leverage Client Referrals. There is nothing more valuable than a third party endorsement. Throughout the sales process, make asking for referrals a part of your regular conversations with prospects, existing customers and former clientele. By simply asking them “Who do you know who would be interested in my services?”, will get them thinking about networking on your behalf.
- Build a Relationship. Every connection you make in business could lead to another. Get to know your clients. Find out what they are interested in. Be a resource for them, not just from a sales standpoint, but learn their interests and incorporate a personal element to your conversations. Building relationships with prospects and clients will help establish likeability and qualify you further as a business person, which could lead to more introductions.
- Connect Via Social Media. Connect with your clients and prospects on social media to build a visible network. According to LinkedIn, 65.1% of business people say social networks are critical for reference checking In addition, the number of B2B buyers who connected directly with potential solutions providers via social networking channels increased 57% from 2012 to 2013. Keep your information up to date and share useful information that pertains to your field.
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