Relationship Selling: 11 Tips to Sell Better and Close More Sales

What’s a better way to sell? Relationship is on sale.

In relationship selling, you build a deeper relationship with your prospect, which benefits both of you in the long term. Instead of selling products and never contacting them again, you keep in touch and give them personalized recommendations that help them improve the bottom line in their business.

They get to take out the price while you exceed the quota.

In his book Relationship Selling, Jim Cathart writes, “Relationship selling is a form of selling, not just a type of relationship. Its purpose is to help other people to your advantage. When you are really helping , you deserve to be well compensated for your product or service.”

In other words, relationship selling is all about being helpful – guaranteeing revenue down the line, with the ultimate goal of providing value and retaining the customer.

In this post, we’ll cover what relationship selling is, go over some examples, and share some top tips for improving the relationship selling process.

Relationship selling is a technique in which the sales representative prioritizes his relationship with the customer over all other aspects of the sale. They develop trust – usually by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects – before attempting to close.

In selling relationships, the emphasis is on building the relationship between the representative and the buyer rather than the features or price of the offering. To build rapport, sales reps typically practice listening actively to successfully uncover prospects’ needs and build relationships.

HubSpot Research reports that a good portion of sales organizations use pre-written sales enabled content such as email templates (53%) and call scripts (39%). If yours is one of those organizations, it couldn’t be more important to actively listen and craft your pitch to develop a relationship.

In fact, 70% of B2B customers expect deep personalization, making it an important aspect of relationship-building.

If they feel that the experience is not personal, they are unlikely to buy an expensive product. They will feel that they are only part of the transaction and not part of a mutually beneficial relationship.

That’s why you’ll want to avoid transactional sales. It is often quick and non-personalised, which is why it has not been favored by most B2B organizations.

A sale transaction is the quick exchange of a product or service for money that usually does not require a personal experience. Relationship selling, on the other hand, is effort- and research-intensive, and often involves personalization and familiarity.

Transactional selling works well for low-cost, commoditized products, where it doesn’t make sense to invest in getting to know their buyers. For example, the clothing and car industries participate in transaction sales.

Relationship sales are better for businesses where there is a longer sales cycle, and prospects need more touch points before making a purchase decision. Overall, it’s good for high-cost situations and/or customized solutions, but that’s not the only scenario where it’s applicable.

Relationship selling example

You can think of relationship selling as an enterprise B2B strategy, and it certainly isn’t wrong. Any rep working on a $50,000+ deal is probably using relationship selling techniques – think sales automation software or a salesperson to a customized HR app.

But relationship selling also applies to consumer products. How well do you know your tailor? If they are smart, they will develop a personal relationship with you so that your loyalty goes beyond their capabilities. What about your favorite hotel? Many of the nicest people keep a careful eye on their guests’ preferences, creating a personalized experience for anyone returning.

Here are some more examples where businesses use relationship sales.

Enterprise SaaS Companies

Enterprise SaaS providers such as HubSpot use relationship selling to sell their suite of products. In the first outreach email, the sales rep usually asks for a quick call, and as the nurturing process progresses, they send links to helpful materials and provide free demos.

These companies use CRM to keep their prospects’ information on hand. That way, the sales rep doesn’t have to remember customer details from memory, and the relationship develops seamlessly from week to week.

Health care providers

Healthcare providers use relationship selling, although it does so differently from B2B businesses. With your medical information on hand, they can tailor your treatments based on your needs. Even if you are serviced by a different staff member, your experience remains consistent throughout each visit.

Subscription services

In the B2C space, subscription services like Spotify and Amazon Prime use deep algorithmic personalization to build relationships with users.

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