Relationship selling: the process and benefits | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Relationship selling: the process and benefits

10 September, 2023

Seemingly, technology is dominating sales around the world. Yet, regardless of the effectiveness of digitised workflows, nothing has been invented so far that can overshadow genuine human interaction. Simply put, the buyer-seller relationship is the cornerstone of customer loyalty, a salient factor that cannot be changed, no matter how developed the technology is. There is nothing better than friendly chatter with a prospect or customer.

In today’s highly competitive business environment, establishing and nurturing strong relationships with customers is essential for the long-term success of a business entity. Relationship selling is a customer-centric approach that focuses on creating meaningful and mutually beneficial connections with clients. This approach goes beyond transactional interactions and prioritises building trust, understanding customer needs, and delivering better results.

Unlike transactional selling, which is all about making the sale, relationship selling is all about trust, one of the most critical components of selling. The result of a good relationship-based sales process is a buyer-seller relationship that only gets stronger with time.

Active listening helps salespeople better understand another person’s point of view and respond with genuine compassion.

Listening techniques such as reflecting, asking simple and honest questions, seeking clarification, and watching body language help you develop relationships when meeting new prospects. People who are active and responsive are good at initiating and maintaining conversations, thus creating lasting relationships.

Meanwhile, demonstrating empathy builds strong relationships. Salesmen act as counsellors and help customers make buying decisions. With the existing communication clutter due to excessive social media messages, prospects are overcrowded and confused. By sensitively understanding the customers’ feelings and perspectives, salespeople can effectively respond to the prospects’ buying decision dilemmas while strengthening the relationship.

Personalising all your communications is a key strategy to increase customer loyalty. The salesman must try to personalise any message, verbal or written, as much as possible. This means that the salesperson values their preferences, needs, and feedback. However, respecting the customer’s privacy and preferences is extremely important. Salespeople must avoid sending excessive or irrelevant messages that can irritate the customer.

Personalised messages

Similarly, salesmen always try to send messages to each segment of customers using their names whenever possible, simply because any person admires a personalised message rather than formal communication. Not only can the salespeople use different tones, styles, and formats based on the communication channel used, but they can also deliver a more friendly message by being informal. For example, messages sent through formal channels such as email or letters must have a formal and professional tone, whereas social media messages can be friendly and casual.

Following up with customers is an integral part of relationship selling, before and after a sale. It gives the impression that the salesperson genuinely cares about the needs of the customer and that he or she is available for the customer.

Following up with customers gives the feeling that the salesman cares about his or her customers and is available for them. Customers stick with such brands and organisations for a longer period of time. It also helps encourage customers to write good reviews that build trust for such brands. It also demonstrates that the salesman is interested in developing a connection as well as the transaction. By following up with customers, the seller demonstrates that he or she is interested in developing a genuine connection with the customer as well as the transaction.

Instead of cluttering the customer’s inbox with messages with a strong sales pitch, providing educational content is vital. Habitually, customers expect unwanted promotional material from salespeople because that has been the trend for decades. However, sending customers valuable and intellectual information about the product benefits, general market conditions, and any other rational material will be a pleasant surprise to the customer. Educational content can be delivered to customers as blog posts, video clips, newsletters, personalised emails, and so forth.

Transparency is a fundamental principle for building credibility and trust in any business or organisation. In maintaining product and service transparency, the seller must provide clear, accurate, detailed, and authentic information. This should include factual details about the features, specifications, capabilities, and limitations.

Also, transparency in communication is an important aspect of building relationships. Sending timely information about changes, if there are any, that they might undergo is important to maintaining good relations. Also, the problems that arise from such changes must be addressed promptly and genuinely. Acting on customer feedback on every issue or problem demonstrates sellers’ consciousness about the buyer.

Consistency plays a pivotal role in relationships, reinforcing reliability, which in turn strengthens interactions with customers. Consistency, when combined with transparency and dependability, forms the foundation of strong and enduring relationships with customers. It reassures them that they can rely on the business to meet their needs and expectations consistently over time, which is a key factor in building brand loyalty and trust.

Repeat sales

Effective relationships with customers bring repeat sales to an organisation. Its ability to generate revenue is enormous, as customers feel valued and well-served, which makes them more likely to return for additional purchases. When applied effectively, relationship selling also ensures that customers have a positive experience throughout their journey.

Satisfied customers often become brand advocates. They refer friends, family, and colleagues to your business, essentially becoming unpaid promoters. Positive word-of-mouth marketing from loyal customers can be incredibly effective in attracting new business.

Relationship selling also provides overwhelming opportunities for cross-selling and un-selling for the organisation.  Building relationships with customers allows the salesman to better understand their needs and preferences.

This knowledge can be leveraged to cross-sell or up-sell additional products or services. For example, a salesman who is completing a sale of a mobile phone can offer a few accessories as cross-selling, or he can offer a more expensive model as upselling.

Relationship selling can be a successful tool to reduce marketing costs. Marketing to existing customers is generally more cost-efficient than acquiring new ones. Relationship selling focuses on nurturing existing relationships, reducing the need for expensive customer acquisition campaigns.

According to marketing metrics, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60%–70%, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5%–20%. Aa friendly customer base can also serve as a source of referrals, reducing the amount spent on acquiring new customers through advertising or marketing efforts.

A trustworthy and loyal clientele can provide an organisation with an extremely competitive advantage. In a fiercely competitive market saturated with similar products with parallel features and advantages, strong customer relationships can be a key differentiator. Customers often tend to pick businesses they trust over competitors, even when the offerings are similar.

High customer retention rates resulting from relationship selling can be a substantial competitive advantage. Retaining customers is typically less expensive than constantly searching for new ones, and it helps maintain a steady revenue stream.

In a world where customers have numerous options and information at their fingertips, relationship selling has become an indispensable approach. By following a structured relationship-selling process and employing various techniques, sales professionals can create strong connections with customers that transcend individual transactions. In the current business landscape, characterised by aggressive competition and evolving consumer preferences, relationship selling offers a multitude of benefits.