Relationship Selling: Not Dead, Just Different – by Jonathan Catley
Over the last couple months I have read four or five posts discussing relationship selling and the fact that it is dead. Transactional selling was replaced by relationship selling, and now that has reached its end of life. So what has replaced relationship selling? If it were up to Matthew Dixon, author of the book The Challenger Sale, he would probably say that challenger selling should be the next phase in the evolution process. Many argue that transactional selling is back, and some say social media and the internet has turned it into a buyer’s market and the consumer is in complete control, making it difficult for sales reps to build relationships with their prospects. What sales reps need to realize is that these new social networks have made it easier to build relationships, and that you can do it more frequently and more often.
Relationship selling was built on time, trust, and customer service. These traits are still prevalent in today’s sales cycle, so why are we so quick to dismiss the idea that a relationship has not been forged during this process. It is easier now to learn more about your prospects and keep up to date with their needs with the use of social media. The relationship building process moves at a faster pace, because, frankly, most of us don’t have the time to commit as we once did. But it still takes time to utilize these new channels and find the information and data you need about your prospect before you begin to build a relationship.
I have built relationships with people and businesses through social media channels, and these are people that I have only engaged with through social networks. We usually exchange emails and collaborate on projects together and I have seen many cases where partnerships are formed or deals get done. In most cases, we have not met in person or even spoken on the phone. Would you say no relationship exists because of that?
If you were looking to sell your services to me, would you look on Twitter or Linkedin before having an exploratory conversation? If you did, you would know that I am a father of two boys, I love Cleveland sports, unfortunately, and that I was in the golf industry for a few years. As a sales rep, you are now armed with a lot of information to begin a conversation with me and to start building a new relationship.
“You can make a lot of mistakes and still win in sales. Believing that you can go without relationships isn’t one of them. In a time when so many people are behaving like sales is transactional, swim against the current and build the deep relationships that success is built on.
All things being equal, relationships win. All things being unequal, relationships still probably win.”
Relationship selling hasn’t died; it has just evolved to fit society’s demands of instant gratification and faster paced lifestyles. Just because we have different ways of building our relationships certainly doesn’t mean the concept has no more value, it is still alive and well, only different than a generation ago.
Jonathan Catley previously worked in the hospitality industry with some of the top country clubs on the East Coast before joining AG Salesworks a few years ago. He is currently the Digital Content Manager for AG Salesworks and focuses on demand generation and social networking, specializing in sales and marketing campaigns for start-up and Fortune 500 IT organizations. He is a graduate of Elon University and currently lives in Southeastern Massachusetts with his wife and two sons.
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