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  • Writer's pictureBob Prentice


Updated: Apr 9, 2020

As sales people, we aspire to keep building our client base in order to continue growing our businesses. No matter how many prospective clients we have, often the only way–and dare I say the best way–to convert a prospect to a new and active client, is to build a relationship with them. This is what I call relationship selling. I have taught relationship selling to my clients and attempted to live it out in my own sales career for over 35 years. True, relationship building may take a little extra time, but it is most surely worth the effort. Relationship selling in no get rich quick scheme. However, it does provide for the steady growth in sales to achieve a sustainable living. Relationship selling plans for "touching" prospective clients and customers in healthy and positive ways, to help them move forward in the process of recognizing how the products or services we are offering can benefit them. This we do by getting to know them as people–to find out what their needs are–utilizing a variety of methods. We can begin by asking a good question–not a question with only a yes or no answer, but one that will get the prospect the saying "Yes" right away. I like to start with: "May I have your permission to ask you a few questions?" Most people will say yes, and then I proceed with asking another appropriate question, such as: "What's the biggest issue you're facing right now in your life and/or business?" or "What are some of your goals? Next, offer an idea or two, relating to what they just told you, that will meet their need. At this point, you could give them a business card, flyer, or one sheet. Perhaps you could show them a sample of your work or the product you are offering.

In an initial meeting, you may not feel like you have gotten very far in the sales process, but remember that building relationships take time. You are going to want to "drip" on the prospect little by little, rather than dumping all you've got on them all at once. So make intentional plans to continue building the relationship you've started.

For instance my wife and son, owners of Creative Marketing Solutions, will often prepare a website mock-up of a website based on what they learned about a prospect. They also sell promotional products and like to take in a small gift along with an idea or two for a promotion their prospect could use to bring customers to their business.

I always like to follow up a first meeting with a personal email, text message, or phone call that invites them to keep in touch. I may include a link to a recent blog post I think would be of interest to my prospect, or a proposal or an action plan.

Try to alternate your methods. If you start with a phone call, send an email next and then make a personal visit. Or if you start with meeting someone in person, follow up with an email, and then a phone call, before meeting face-to-face with them again. Each encounter gives you and the prospect an opportunity to build on the relationship.

It may be that getting to know the prospect won't take much time at all. Very often, I have found a prospect eager to learn more and eager to buy. If that's the case, don't hesitate to ask for the business and close the transaction. However, if your prospect isn't exactly jumping at the chance to buy what you're selling, it doesn't mean that they won't become a customer eventually. It just means you need to keep building the relationship.

Keep in mind that in order to increase business there needs to be a lot of relationship building going on, and it's often going to need to be YOU who initiates those relationship. If you make it a point to connect with people every day who can benefit from your goods and services, your activity is sure to not only increase your sales, but make you rich in relationships. So what are you waiting for? Get busy building your business by building relationships!

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