Online training for ambitious entrepreneurs

Is Relationship Selling Dead?

This excellent guest post by Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies, hits the nail on the head. She perfectly describes the challenges you face when trying to sell to businesses in today’s pressured world. And she kindly agreed to share the piece with you here.

So is relationship selling dead?

It sure feels that way today! You rarely reach your prospects on the phone and when you do, they quickly brush you off. When you’re in meetings, they want you to get right to the point.

Sometimes they’re so busy multi-tasking, that you’re not even sure if they’re paying attention. Even your long-term customers fail to return your calls for months, making you wonder what you did wrong.

Welcome to the new normal! Your prospects are suffering from Frazzled Customer Syndrome, a debilitating condition brought on by increased expectations, excessive workloads, unrealistic deadlines and fewer resources.

They’re good people who are doing their very best to survive in a frenetic workplace. Their calendars are overflowing, they’re constantly falling behind and they feel powerless to stop the escalating demands on their time.

The truth is, they don’t need another “relationship.”

They barely get to see their best friends anymore. They even eat lunch at their desk everyday so they can get more done. It’s all work, work, work. New relationships are a low priority.

But you want a relationship! Of course you do. You’re a relationship seller. Your best customers love you. They value your work. They refer others to you.

And, you love them back even more and take great care of them. Working with people like this feeds your soul – and pays well too!

Wanting to replicate these strong relationships is natural. But establishing that great connection can be a real challenge when dealing with stressed out people who seem more intent on pushing you away than inviting you in.

Here’s the good news! Underneath all that rude, brusque behavior are normal human beings who desperately want relationships with people who they can trust to help them achieve their goals.

That person could be you. But first, you need to understand what’s going on in their mind in order to create the connection you want.

What Your Prospects Think

Whenever you deal with frazzled prospects their brains immediately start firing off alert signals: “Warning. Pay attention. Salesperson.” While you may not see yourself that way, they do and that’s what matters.

They evaluate your voicemails, emails and initial conversation to determine if having a more in-depth conversation with you is worthwhile. They make lightning-quick decisions to allow you access to them based on these criteria:

  • Is this aligned with what I need to accomplish?
  • How big a priority is it? What’s the urgency?
  • Does this person provide value?
  • How simple is it? Will it take lots of effort?

Unless you can convey all this very quickly, you won’t get your foot in the door. But it doesn’t stop there. To retain or grow a relationship, you have to keep your focus on these decision-criteria at all times too.

Relationship selling today goes far beyond the warm fuzzy feelings that you get from working with people you like and vice versa. It’s about creating partnerships where you’re a contributing team member, working towards your client’s short- and long-term success objectives.

SNAP Rules Change the Game

You need to follow the new SNAP Rules to be successful with the “new” relationship selling. Here they are:

Rule 1: Keep It Simple

Your goal is to ensure maximum simplicity in everything you do. That’s going to require you to look at all aspects of your interactions with your prospects to see where complexity can be eliminated or minimized.

When you keep it simple, you make it easier for your them to buy from you.

Rule 2: Be iNvaluable

Today’s crazy-busy prospects want to work with sellers who “know their stuff” and bring them fresh ideas on a regular basis. Perhaps you’ve never even seen that as your role. But today it’s essential to turn yourself into the competitive differentiator.

When you become invaluable, people choose you over competitors, are less price conscious, and remain loyal.

Rule 3: Always Align

This is all about relevance and risk. At the onset of your relationship, clients need to see an immediate connection between what you do and what they’re trying to achieve. As they move through their decision-making process, they need to know that the alignment extends into core beliefs they value in the people they work with.

When you’re aligned with their critical business objectives and core beliefs, clients want to work with you.

Rule 4: Raise Priorities

It’s an absolute imperative to work with frazzled prospects on their priority projects. With their limited capacity, that’s all they can currently focus on. Because your prospect’s priorities are constantly shifting, you need to be alert to what’s going on in their organization.

When you raise priorities, your sales process goes much faster and you get the business with less competition.

Relationship selling isn’t dead. In fact, it’s more alive than ever before. You still need to connect with your prospects on a personal level, but it’s no longer sufficient.

You have to earn the right to have a relationship with them first.

They want your expertise focused on their priority business objectives, issues and challenges. They want you to continually bring them fresh ideas and provocative insights. They’re looking for you to simplify the complex and make their life easy.

When you do this, they’ll be friends forever.

Want to learn more about the new rules of selling to crazy-busy prospects? To get four FREE sales-accelerating tools and download two chapters of SNAP Selling, visit www.snapselling.com or email [email protected]

Please share your thoughts and add your questions to the comments below. I’ll try to provide as many answers as possible in my future online videos, seminars, workshops, masterclasses and blog posts.

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