A PRIMER FOR RELATIONSHIP SELLING
My recent thoughts revolve around “Relationship Selling”. The modern sales process centers around building trust and identifying needs before even showing the features and benefits of your product or service. If done properly, the closing process becomes simple and overcoming objections may not even be needed because all questions were addressed in the presentation.
The Relationship Selling Triangle
Let’s first review The Relationship Selling Triangle. Once a sales person successfully identifies a list of prospects, the next key is to target a prospect and find ways to develop trust. “Trust” is 40% of The Relationship Selling Triangle. After a rapport is established, then one has earned the right to ask tough questions to understand the “Needs” of the customer. A salesperson should spend 70% of their time and effort building “Trust” and identifying “Needs”.
Only after the business needs have been thoroughly addressed, does it make sense for the sales person to go into the features & benefits of the product or service. If the needs were properly identified, then any potential objections can be addressed within your presentation. The last 10% of a sales person’s effort should be spent on closing the sale. It is here, that the customer may ask some last questions that if properly addressed will lead to the sale.
Building Trust and Identifying Needs
There is an old saying that “People were given two ears to hear and one mouth to speak”. We should use our senses in that order, especially when developing trust. Trust is more than searching for the challenges of a business; it is also about understanding the person. By developing open-ended personal questions, you can find a commonality in both of your personalities. This is why good sales people keep an active inventory of sports, family, hobbies, birthdays, and vacation plans of their key customers.
Both “Trust” and “Needs” require open-ended questions combined with active listening. Open-ended questions usually begin with “Why…”, “What…”, “How…”, or “If…”. As an exercise, take inventory of all of the sales questions you ask today. Are they open or close-ended? A close-ended question can be answered in a short sentence or by a “Yes / No” answer. By converting your close-ended questions to open-end, you will gain a deeper understanding of your prospect’s needs.
Finally, in the “Needs” identification part of the sale, it is important that your questions go deep and not broad. The deeper you dig on a particular need, the more the prospect will acknowledge their “True Need”. Often the key to a sale is for you to uncover the latent needs associated with your potential client. Once a latent need is discovered, and acknowledged by the prospect, then you can confidently proceed to the next step in The Relationship Selling Triangle.
Presentation, Overcoming Objections, and Closing
The next two sections of the triangle, “Presentation” and “Closing”, involve showcasing your product or service. Note the 2:1 effort between the two steps at the top of the triangle versus the two steps at the bottom—very similar to the old adage about 2 ears and 1 mouth. It is here that you can shine by telling your story.
Take time in your presentation to address any potential objections. If you take the time to answer your most common objections as part of the presentation, then you take away most of reasons for not moving ahead. Your presentation should also focus more on the benefits and less on features. Focusing only on features is a common mistake among sales professionals. Benefits offer a return on an investment in the product or service. Discussing a ROI within your presentation demonstrates a greater understanding of your prospect’s needs.
Properly completing these steps sets a prospect up for the “Close”. Your closing statement or “Ask” may be different based on your prospect or your industry. There are multiple closing techniques available to a sales person. The simplest method is the “Invitational Close”, where you ask your prospective client to just try the product or service. When closing, remember that “Silence” can be your best friend. “Silence” creates tension. It also forces the potential client to really consider their next words. If properly done, your closing method will lead you to a new customer!
The Relationship Selling Triangle is an excellent tool to for the sales person’s toolbox. Ask your questions in the “Trust” and “Needs” part of your conversation. Only after digging and understanding your customer’s needs should you proceed to “Presentation”. Here you can overcome objections which will prevent you from “Closing” the sale. If done properly, The Relationship Selling Triangle gains a new client and potentially leads to increases Resales & Referrals.
About the Author: Garrett Grega is a Certified Business Coach with FocalPoint Business Coaching in Branchburg, New Jersey, where he specializes in reconnecting executives, business owners, and managers with their business passions! Garrett has his own passion for supporting others through transitions and exit strategies. He has 20+ years helping international companies launch new products and processes. He previously spent 8 years launching LED lighting products for various lighting companies. His professional experience includes: strategic planning, business development, marketing, and product development. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. See more at www.garrettgrega.focalpointcoaching.com