How to Develop a Sales Process Based on Relationships Part 01
Creating a sales process that is based on relationships, is not only an easier way to sell, it’s also empowering to your sales teams. Sales processes have become increasingly confused and complicated, due in no small part to the nature of globalised economies – customers are no longer just down the road – and the opportunities available now through digital tools to avoid direct human contact altogether.
Interestingly, as digital platforms have become more prevalent, more traditional methods of communication have increased in effectiveness. Salespeople can connect with thousands of people online, but the competition is doing exactly the same thing. Your offer gets lost in the noise.
On the other hand, people are experiencing less human interaction than at almost any other stage in history – speaking directly to people is now a powerful differentiator.
Anatomy of a Relationship Based Sales Process
To create a sales process that is based on relationships, without the inevitable temptation that comes from access to online platforms, the importance of direct communication, and to a certain extent acknowledgement of the shortcomings of digital platforms should be the focal point.
Returning to Basics is Advancement
The psychology of sales and the art of working with people involves knowing who they are; not just their demographic persona. Knowing someone is aged between 30-37 and is married with children and earns over a certain amount of money does not mean they are an ideal client; it means they might be. But without knowing the core problems they’re experiencing and their understanding of potential solutions, there is simply not enough information to present a qualified solution.
So What Do We Do?
Many people throw their reputation to the wind and spam people via social and professional networks on the misguided assumption that if you do something enough, then it has to work. Statistically, this has about as much success as cold calling and the reason is that it’s easy – everyone does it. Metrics look impressive as thousands of connections are reached out to, but the results are not likely to back up those figures.
Effective Sales Means Effective Prospecting
Neil Rackham’s book Spin Selling was a sales book backed by research. Tracking thousands of high-value sales calls, Rackham and his team learnt that effective selling has a pattern and that the established knowledge of the time was wrong.
The findings were many, but the most important was that understanding the problem was key; not so a sales pitch can be made, but as a step towards understanding the implication on the buyer – both of taking, and not taking action. This was revolutionary at the time, and Spin became the standard training for senior sales people around the world. It made sense – get to know the prospect, understand the problem, learn why that problem is important and the impact it’s having, and then provide a solution based on that implication.
It was hard work, and involved strategy and thought, but it worked and numerous companies spoke of how the ‘purpose’ behind the process gave their salespeople direction and focus, both when identifying prospects, and during the sales process.