Selling effectively doesn’t have a magic formula; if it did, marketing professionals would be out of a job. At its core, selling is a matter of establishing a relationship with customers, and relationships aren’t subject to universal rules. There are, however, some ways of selling that have higher success rates – techniques that foster relationship-building instead of standing in the way of it. These tips aren’t recipes for success, a simple matter of combining the right ingredients, but a way of thinking about sales that you and your team can apply and connect better with your leads and customers in any context.
Cooperation, not Competition
One of the greatest mistakes some sellers make is in misunderstanding the relationship they have with their clients. They consider it an adversarial one in which their goal is to put one over on their market. Think of the stereotype of the used-car salesman who only cares about moving units off the lot and will do just about anything to close a deal, and you’ve spotted this kind of seller. A healthy relationship between sellers and buyers involves cooperation; you’re working together to arrive at a mutually satisfying sale. Your goal isn’t just to convince the customer to buy, but to match that customer with something he or she truly needs.
Selling Is a Long-Term Relationship
A single sale may happen quickly, but selling is far more involved than simply completing that transaction. Selling is a process, a marathon rather than a sprint – especially in a B2B sales context. Sellers can and should be prepared to invest time in establishing and enhancing that relationship both before and after a sale. By devoting time to customers, sellers earn trust that results in future sales, referrals, and good word of mouth that no amount of marketing spend can buy. Give your time to customers, and your efforts will come back to you.
Learn from Your Customers
While every marketer worthy of the term knows how important it is to segment an audience and focus on the most promising leads, pay attention to the customers outside that group as well. Too often, sellers become locked into a market to the exclusion of others, but if they listen, they’ll hear the voices of other would-be customers asking for some time and attention too. Customers are well aware of their needs, and emerging markets often arise from finding ways to fill new needs; as a seller, you should be ready to answer these customers too. They know what they want; if you listen to and learn from them, you’ll find out exactly how to deliver it to them.
You’re Always Selling Something
Selling doesn’t stop at the office door. Every time you persuade a business associate to adopt a new approach or convince your spouse to try a new restaurant, you’re selling an idea. This concept of selling as something that’s woven into the fabric of your life, not just something you do at the office, is another proof of why selling isn’t just a simple transaction. It’s pervasive in every relationship you have, and that includes how you relate to customers. Treat them as you would your family, your co-workers, and your neighbors.
Customers can tell if you believe in what you’re saying. Some sellers recognize the importance of relationships to sales and adopt a false closeness they haven’t yet earned with their clientele, but this is a mistake. When you pretend to have a closer relationship with customers than you do, they’re going to retreat as you advance into the space they haven’t yet given you. It’s an artificial way to jump-start a client/seller relationship, and it doesn’t have a good success rate. Instead, give yourself and your customers time to build a mutually beneficial business relationship on genuine shared interests.