Industrial Sales

Shifting focus from selling to B2B relationship building

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I have always felt that building solid relationships is the key to success, both in sales lead generation and in most other areas of human interaction.

People need to feel in control of their choices. I know I do. You may be able to pressure some people into agreeing to an appointment and maybe even into a sale. Still, that person will not become a valued client. They will not trust you with the “share of wallet” that you need to sustain a long-term, mutually profitable relationship.

The key here is the word “mutual.” There needs to be a base of trust and a mutually agreed perception that the deal meets the needs of everyone involved. When you achieve that status — when there is a match between what you have to offer and what your prospective client needs – that’s the point at which a sale can be closed and a long-term partnership established.

Here are the elements that you should adopt to support your clients

1. Stop the sales pitch

Start a conversation. When you call someone, never start with a mini-presentation about yourself, our client’s company, or what you have to offer.

Instead, start with a conversational phrase that focuses on a specific problem that the product, service or solution solves. For example, you might say, “I’m just calling to see if you are open to some different ideas about preventing downtime across your computer network?”

Notice that you are not pitching a solution with this opening phrase. Instead, you’re addressing a problem that you believe they might be having based on your experience in their field.

2. Speak to the level of the contact with whom you are speaking

Please don’t speak about details with a C-Level executive; they are interested in the big picture, not the nitty-gritty minutiae. And don’t speak about more esoteric, lofty things with someone responsible for the day to day details. Always consider the person you are communicating with and focus your discussion on the kinds of things that are their key concerns. These things keep them up at night.

3. Your goal is always to discover whether our client and their prospect are a good fit

If you let go of trying to close the sale or get the appointment, you’ll find that you don’t have to take responsibility for moving the sales process forward. By simply focusing your conversation on problems that you can help prospects solve and not jumping the gun by trying to move the sales process forward, you’ll discover that prospects will give you the direction you need.

4. Never be defensive about our clients or what they offer

This only creates more sales pressure. For example, when prospects say, “Why should I choose you over your competition?” your instinct is to defend our client’s product or service because you believe they are the best choice. Of course, you want to convince them of that. But what goes through their minds at that point?

Something like, “This ‘salesperson’ is trying to sell me, and I hate feeling as if I’m being sold.”

5. Stop being defensive

In fact, come right out and tell them that you aren’t going to try to convince them of anything because that only creates sales pressure. Instead, ask them again about key problems they’re trying to solve. Then explore how our client’s product or service might solve those problems. Finally, give up trying to persuade. Let prospects feel they can choose you without feeling sold.

The sooner you can let go of the traditional sales beliefs that we’ve all been exposed to, the more quickly you’ll start seeing better results.

6.  Hidden sales pressure causes rejection

Eliminate sales pressure, and you’ll rarely experience rejection. Prospects don’t trigger rejection. But, you do — when something you say, and it could be very subtle, triggers a defensive reaction from your prospect.

Yes, something you say.

You can eliminate rejection forever simply by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. Instead, be sure that everything you say and does stems from the essential mindset that you’re there to help prospects identify and solve their issues.

6. Never chase prospects

Instead, get to the truth of whether there’s a fit or not. Chasing prospects has always been considered ordinary and necessary. Still, it’s rooted in the macho selling image: “If you don’t keep chasing, you’re giving up, which means you’re a failure.” This is dead wrong.
Instead, ask your prospects if they’d be open to connecting again at a particular time and date so you can both avoid the phone tag game.

The sooner you can let go of the traditional sales beliefs that we’ve all been exposed to, the better you’ll feel about your job. The more quickly you’ll start seeing better results.