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Start By Building Relationships, NOT Selling


Whether you’re selling software or promoting a nonprofit, the key to success is the same: Build a relationship of trust and THEN deliver your message.

No matter what you’re selling, speeding up the relationship building process is critical. In this blog, we’ll discuss how to build relationships and how to use technology — especially social media — to improve the speed and efficiency of this process.

To start, do everything in your power to resist pitching the product to your potential buyers. Pitching products was the old way of selling, and, truthfully, was probably never the right way to start the process.

Earlier this year, HubSpot shared a great article about quickly building relationships with prospects. What’s the secret? Educating them! “By giving these prospects high quality educational content on a frequent and recurring basis, you are going to strengthen the budding relationship that you have started,” the article says.

In other words, instead of pitching to them, build a relationship with your prospects by offering free advice and industry-related education. Here’s the part that we see so many salespeople miss: This advice or help doesn’t have to be directly related to the products and services you offer. The seller’s incremental value to their prospect — which is also the way they deepen this relationship — is best measured by helping the buyer become more educated with their own level of best practices. Help buyers with anything they need and when they need you, they’ll come knocking. In other words, focus on the relationship first and the sale will come.

Even if the prospect didn’t buy your product, they still need to gain value from the interaction with you. Your interactions must be more of a relationship than a transaction. Rather than approaching them with “This is information about my software, will you buy it?” rely more on a “Here, let me help you with that” approach. Develop that connection and upgrade your interactions with these prospects into a long-term relationship.

HubSpot’s article suggests that it’s a good idea to develop 75 percent of your content for people who are in the first stage of the buying cycle, which is called the research stage. Regardless of the stage, always deliver sales assets in a variety of formats, including eBooks, whitepapers, blogs, videos and slide decks.

Of course, you can’t develop any sales assets that solve people’s problems unless you understand their problems. One really great way to speed up this part of the information-gathering phase of the relationship is by using technology such as collaboration and communication platforms. These tools can get the “conversation” going with many prospects at a time.

For example, sharing a link to someone else’s thought-provoking blog on Twitter or re-tweeting a link from a well-known industry source about your persona’s pain can build this relationship with all of your followers. Remember, these sales assets don’t necessarily need to relate directly back to your solution. The relationship should be much more organic; after all, social can be a strong relationship-building piece. If your prospects are active on one social network or another, sharing their stuff will get their attention. Furthermore, software provides a more aggregated view of your prospect.

The Tellwise Nutshell (TTN): We believe that building relationships is all about educating your prospects with best practices, products, tips and advice. Selling today is centered on becoming an adviser to prospects. Use interactive features, platforms and social media to start and maintain conversations during the sales process. Make sure that you’re tracking the engagement your sales assets receive so that you can better revise your existing assets and create new content to fill in any gaps you find. At the end of the day, this effort is about understanding where your prospects are coming from and helping them.

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