I blame the guarded attitude of many folks towards the sales process in business solidly on the shoulders of Willy Lowman, the hapless salesman, and feature character in Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. This 1949 classic was mandatory reading for most Canadians of my generation. And it’s lasting effects reached far beyond our impressionable years of English 11. While it addressed the loss of identity and one man’s inability to accept change within himself and society, it cemented in our minds forever that to work in sales meant you were an angry, obsessive and mediocre character, chasing but never achieving that monumental deal.
Thankfully the sales process has changed. And as many of us later realized, as we entered the world of business, to be in sales could offer up limitless financial reward, unprecedented freedom, and a feeling of accomplishment that you didn’t just make a sale, you had made a customer happy or improved their life. At the heart of sales these days is the importance of relationships. Let’s call it relationship selling.
In many ways relationship selling is based on old-fashioned courtship, where a series of interactions build familiarity and trust. This process of dating leads both parties through a series of mini-commitments that hopefully lead to a longer-term commitment and loyalty. While speed dating may be a new trend for the time-starved, it doesn’t work in relationship selling.
What are some ways folks can be lead through that series of mini-commitments in the process of building a relationship with you?
– Genuine engagement at networking events, where you are a “connector, not a collector of business cards” (Thank you Cathy Kuzel and The Connected Woman for your great positioning line!)
– Finding ways to help others and then following through, rather than always looking for how they can help you. Paying it forward always comes back in multiples later.
– Meet in person, talk on the phone more.
– Posting helpful content to your potential customers online through your blog or e-newsletter. When they engage with you about it or share through their social media channels, always engage back with gratitude. And ask a thoughtful question. Continuing the conversation makes you more personable and human. The trust factor continues to go up. Remember we’re building mini-commitments here. It takes time.
– Sharing others useful content. By demonstrating you are part of a community that wants to help other businesses, and not just serving up knowledge through your own content, you are demonstrating authenticity to those your serve. If you curate others content strategically to your highly targeted audience, in addition to your own, you quickly become known as a thought leader in that area.
– Using social media such a Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube as outposts to share content. But again, be strategic about it. Ask yourself, what will make that person I share it with look smart, insightful, funny or connected to an inner circle? If you make it about them, and not about you, the chances of it being shared with their contacts go up exponentially. And when it is shared, be sure to engage those who helped. Ask thoughtful questions, and continue the conversation. You might then begin to tag those folks in future conversations that you know will be of interest to them. That action will continue to provoke online conversations, mini-commitments and trust.
Ultimately, you want online and social to convert to something more personable on the phone or in person. If you’ve been courting for a while, this will be a natural transition. Few folks enjoy the anxiety of a blind date. The same holds true for sales. We buy from those we know and trust. That’s relationship selling.
Once a small sale has been earned, it is then all about further nurturing the relationship, finding out how you can help on an even deeper level and continuing the process to solidify loyalty.
A quick shout out to The Connected Woman (http://theconnectedwoman.com/) with thanks for putting on such a fabulous networking and social event for businesswomen in Vancouver last Tuesday evening, May 27. I was honoured to be your guest speaker and share my 5-Minute Marketing insights!
The Peter Legge International Institute for Sales Excellence presents… We are all connected: using social media to tell your story and increase sales
With 5-Minute Marketing insights expert Mary Charleson
Whether you are an entrepreneur, come from a small business or corporate background, Mary makes a complex subject simple. Pithy, irreverent, but never short on actionable detail, she tells her story in a compelling and memorable way. Here’s Mary’s take on social media in sales, and she knows the landscape – she’ll discuss trends and opportunities, show what industry leaders are doing, and inspire you with actionable marketing and sales ideas that you can put to work right away to boost your business growth. Event topics will include:
– We are all connected: using social media to tell your story
– Disruption: thriving and seeing opportunity instead of threat
– Tracked, targeted & tired: consumers go private in public
– Word of mouth: using the power of one to reach the power of many
– Going viral: making your message sticky and helping it spread
– Content is king but creating community is queen
Social media has dramatically changed the way companies do business and build relationships with their customers. In this workshop, you will learn how to use social media to tell your story in an engaging and thoughtful manner, how to leverage the “power of one” to reach the power of many, how to position your message to go viral and how to build your community for long-term sales success.
PLACE: Douglas College, New Westminster Campus, 700 Royal Avenue, New Westminster BC The Gathering Place, 4th Floor
DATE: Tuesday, June 10, 7:30–10:30 am
REGISTRATION: Tickets ($25) include continental breakfast and networking coffee break. Here’s the Eventbrite link to the June 10 event:
For more information on the Peter Legge International Institute of Sales Excellence: http://www.douglascollege.ca/programs-courses/faculties/commerce-business-administration/sales-institute)