Too often salespeople skip relationship building to try to close deals faster. In doing so they risk losing sales to competitors willing to put in the time to create relationships. Before blaming sellers for sloppy salesmanship, look at management to see if anything they’re doing is causing the behavior.
A company I know sells a technology platform that requires a large technology change to implement. Gaining prospect trust is a crucial factor in closing sales. Their sales cycle from initial meeting to closed sale is usually 12-18 months. When the top of their funnel was empty they enlisted my company’s Door Opener® Service to get initial prospect meetings. The reps engaged interested prospects during initial meetings but failed to follow up after that. Why?
Senior management mandated sellers ONLY focus on sales with the potential to close within 6 months to meet quarterly goals. Top of the funnel interested prospects were ignored after the initial meeting as a result.
Short term thinking kills long term success. This strategy created a death sentence for next year’s sales. Sellers who invest in relationships will ultimately win more deals.
Here are my top tips for effectively building relationships.
Do: Give Relationships Time to Develop
Relationships happen in time, but not on time. Decision makers don’t buy just because sellers are ready to sell; they buy when they’re ready to buy.
Do: Personalize the Message
Prospects are bombarded with general awareness messages. To break through the clutter be purposeful and craft sales messages meant specifically for an individual.
Do: Build the Sales Message Over Time
Deepen the sales message over time by including more examples and research. Assume your prospect retained bits and pieces of what you previously said but not all of it.
Do: Approach the Prospect from Several Different Directions
Go beyond emails and phone calls to build relationships. Find out if your prospect is attending a conference and go to it. If you know individuals who are connected to the person you want to meet, approach them and enlist their support.
Don’t: Violate the Three P’s
Persistence with Patience without being a Pest is key to relationship building. Bombarding your prospects with too many touchpoints within too short a time period can ruin relationships. Likewise, leaving too much time in between touch points is also ineffective.
Don’t: Make it about you
Have you ever heard a seller say, “I would love the opportunity to speak with you.” No one cares why the seller would love the meeting. What matters is why the prospect would love the meeting. How can meeting make his/her life better?
Don’t: Rush the Process Or Give Ultimatums
Ultimatums like, “If I don’t hear from you by Tuesday I’ll assume you’re not interested,” don’t help relationships develop. Have empathy for business leaders who have a lot to accomplish and often not enough time in the day to get it done.