How to Turn a Relationship Into a Sale

Sales teams that focus on relationships quickly learn the value of providing personal and professional value to clients rather than focusing solely on the sale.

The impact of relationship building with your customers may surprise you. Ferrazzi Greenlight’s study of 16 Global Account Teams (PDF) showed that these strategic, relationship-focused teams grew their accounts at least twice as fast as regular transactionally-focused account teams. This happened despite the fact that the relationship-focused teams worked on the company’s largest, most mature accounts — the most difficult to expand rapidly because they were already so large.

Why? People do business with people they know and like. And people like people who focus on their success. That means a sales call is a success if it advances your customers’ cause and builds the relationship, not just if it closes a transaction.

This won’t be news to most salespeople, who excel at building relationships. What can be hard for many sales people is turning the ongoing conversation of a relationship into a transaction.

The good news is that transactions often happen as a matter of course when sales teams focus on building great relationships with generosity.

Generosity Without Expectations of Tit for Tat

One of the things I advise salespeople to do is to be prepared with five packets of generosity and no expectations. Do the homework required to go into each meeting with a list of five ways to make the person you’re meeting successful. That’s what’s going to arrest people’s attention and make them willing to develop a closer relationship with you.

What kind of homework? I’m not talking about the usual research on the company and its need for what you’re selling. Research the person! You’re looking for personal reasons to care. Find a way to introduce something that leverages your shared interests. Failing that, fall back to some deeply-held personal interests of your own. Talking about them will make you human, not just a sales person pushing a service or a widget.


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