At first glance, relationship selling may sound like a weird matchmaking service. Then again, who wouldn’t want to find the love of their life by leveraging the right professional connections?
Thankfully, actual relationship selling is far from that odd pipe dream. As you may have guessed, relationship selling is the practice of transparency and mutual interest in the relationship between sellers and buyers. The general concept of putting people first has been around for decades, but it was only recently packaged up as relationship selling in the last few years or so.
That being said, what does relational selling actually look like? How different is it from regular selling, and how can you do it in a genuine way? We explore these questions and more in this blog post.
Relationship Selling Focuses On…
Relationship selling focuses on four areas of business activity: self-mastery, offering solutions, understanding customers and their values, and efficient business strategy. Each of these components build upon the other and without one of them your relational sales approach will fall flat. Let’s examine each of them and learn why each one is a must-have.
Before you can become a master at sales, you must master your own thoughts, feelings, and actions. This is one of the most difficult aspects of selling and is therefore one of the most important.
Self-mastery is the process of being fully aware of your inner self so you can understand what is guiding your actions. It’s only human to be influenced by the people and activities around you, but those with self-mastery rise above the noise. They commit to striking clarity in their goals, excellent performance at work, and incredible transparency in their relationships.
Offering Solutions Instead of Selling Products
The crux of being a phenomenal sales professional is knowing when and where to offer a solution for a problem. In sales, you’re tempted to ask for the sale and get hefty commissions whenever possible. After all, in order to sustain a career in sales, you do have to close deals.
But that is precisely where most people get their priorities switched up. It’s common for inexperienced salespeople to ask for the sale early and often. They’re excited by the idea of making money and want to show others how effective they are.
Instead, when you’re most tempted to push, you should be pulling. In other words, it’s more effective to listen to someone as they share their pain point, then evaluate how you can help them.
As an old sales axiom goes, “People hate being sold to, but they love to buy.” When people are buying, they aren’t usually excited about the product or service itself. They’re excited about the emotional satisfaction or relief the purchase provides them.
Take real estate for example. Is anyone excited about the materials that make up the four walls of their house? Nope. They’re thrilled about the new emotional realities the home creates, such as spending time with loved ones and relaxing in a new space.
The best sales professionals in the world don’t try to sell people products; they position their solutions as the answers to people’s problems. This type of customer-first thinking takes effort to embrace, but once you adopt it, it works wonders for you.
Understanding Customers and What They Value
The next area relationship selling focuses on is understanding your customers and what they value. All too often, sales professionals project their own values and interests onto their prospects.
It’s human nature to be concerned with yourself–your own thoughts, needs, and emotions. But this is a roadblock when applied in a sales environment. If you’re only concerned about closing a deal, you’ll come across as desperate or selfish.
As soon as you pivot and place your client’s needs front and center, you’ll be amazed at how much they open up. People share a lot more information when they sense you’re genuine.
When your prospect is speaking, use what experts call global listening. This is a listening technique that prioritizes everything the speaker is saying, including their non-verbal communication. It means listening not just to prepare a response, but to truly put yourself in their shoes.
Responding to your client at the right time is necessary, but you don’t want to do it in a shallow or hasty manner. This will communicate that you aren’t really interested in them, you just want the deal.
Wait to respond until your client has finished talking. This gives them time to complete their thoughts and strengthens your patience when listening. Over time, this will feel natural to you and clients will want to share even more with you.
Efficient Business Strategy
Even if you’re a people person and know how to generate real estate leads, you’ll still need new people to talk to down the road. If you also have a high closing rate, that’s all the more reason to have an efficient system for inbound sales leads.
The business systems you have in place (or the lack thereof) create the environment you do your work in. If you’re spending every free hour looking for your next client, chances are you don’t have reliable systems in place.
Successful business owners know they need to delegate and systematize in order to give their best to clients. As a real estate agent or broker, your most important work is done in conversations with clients.
There are dozens of tools, marketing strategies, and business approaches that can make your work more effective. Rather than doing all of them simultaneously, it’s better to choose a couple proven methods and go all-in. One such approach is researching email marketing tips.
If you’ve asked yourself, “When is the best time to send an email?” That’s a great place to start. Email marketing has limitless benefits when used wisely.
Trust-Based Relationship Selling
It’s no secret that strong relationships are built on trust. So why does trust seem to disappear when people are discussing a potential sale? It’s because both your and your prospect’s natural defenses go up.
Relationships between humans are reciprocal by their nature. When someone asks something of you, you tend to want something in return. It’s normal to want whatever you’re investing in to produce a worthwhile return on your time and money.
If you’re new to your role, it’s even more important to begin building trust and rapport with clients. There are several ways you can accomplish this, including but not limited to:
- Asking them questions about their needs
- Sharing testimonials
- Demonstrating your value in explicit ways
- Scheduling in-person conversations and walkthroughs
- Listening twice as often as you speak
You don’t need to use all of these at the same time; just one or two that are simple for you. The common thread in each of these practices is placing client needs above your own.
Relationship Between Buyer and Seller
The core of relational selling is understanding the relationship between buyer and seller. This is a nuanced relationship that takes a lifetime to understand and master. With the right information and plenty of practice, you can go from anxious or inexperienced to relaxed and confident.
It’s important to note that the buyer and seller take on different forms based on what sales scenario you’re in. For example, you may be involved in an equity sale one day, versus a bank-owned sale another day.
Different types of transactions attract different buyers, too. Some people are looking for properties in excellent condition, whereas others are looking for a fixer-upper. The relationship between buyer and seller will depend on these factors and more.
There’s a lot going through the minds of both sellers and buyers. Here’s a quick overview of both:
Buyers Are Thinking About:
- If they love the property or not
- If they can afford the home
- Repair, maintenance, and closing costs
- If their agent is helping or hurting the process
Sellers Are Thinking About:
- Finding interested buyers
- Landing a good commission
- Maximizing the chance of a sale for their client
- Closing swiftly and painlessly
The more you can place yourself in the mind of your client, the better. It helps you understand how to start conversations, ask follow-up questions, and close deals. Each of these skills are necessary for thriving in real estate.
Winning With Relationship Selling
Understanding sales on a deep level has the power to strengthen your relationships and generate plenty of profit. That’s why it’s so important to have the right mental foundations as a sales professional.
Winning with relationship selling is simple and effective when you keep a few principles top of mind. Here is how to look at all of your sales conversations moving forward:
- Center yourself. It’s near impossible to present as trustworthy and confident when you’re stressed or nervous. You can leverage mental tools to get yourself in the right state of mind. These include putting your personal world aside, reminding yourself of past wins, and optimizing your schedule. For example, avoid talking with clients when you’re tired–you’re unlikely to be at your best.
- Put your client’s needs first. It’s pretty obvious at this point, but prioritizing your clients’ interests is the path to success. Everyone is interested in what other people can do for them, so as soon as you flip the script, things start to change. When your clients win, you automatically win. There’s no reason not to help people with what they’re looking for!
- Keep learning. In order to be the authoritative source that everyone looks up to, you need to continue learning. After years of being in the industry you may feel like you know everything, but the true masters recognize how far they still have to go.
Relationship selling is a hard skill that pays incredible dividends. It’s a skill you can take with you to every area of your life, whether that’s your next client or a conversation at home.
Frequently Asked Questions About Relationship Selling
Unless you’ve been in real estate or a sales profession for several years, chances are the term “relationship selling” is new to you. After all, isn’t selling the same, no matter who you’re talking to or what you’re selling?
That’s the train of thought people have used for years. Unfortunately, treating everyone the same doesn’t work for you or them. Relationship selling recognizes that each customer is unique, and therefore has individual goals, needs, and viewpoints.
If it’s your first time learning about relational selling, you likely have some questions. Take a look at these frequently asked questions about relationship selling and our answers.
What Is An Example of Relationship Selling?
One example of relationship selling is being consistent. If while speaking with a client, they’re not ready now and you offer to follow up in two weeks, be sure to do it. The digital world has lowered people’s expectations towards communication, which means people are all the more pleased when someone does follow through.
What Is The Role of Relationship Selling?
The role of relationship selling is to foster more authentic connections between a seller and a buyer. Though this concept first propagated in sales-heavy industries like real estate and business software, it can be applied to any sales-driven circumstance.
Relationship selling takes age-old principles of human interaction and frames them in relation to business objectives. For example, people don’t want others to pressure them with buying decisions; they want to be free to make those decisions themselves.
The old days of salesmen going door-to-door and sitting down with people at the dinner table are long gone. Relational selling capitalizes on this trend by putting personalized communication front-and-center and learning what the customer is looking for first.
What Does Relationship Selling Mean In Business?
In business, relationship selling means putting yourself in the customer’s shoes throughout the entire sales process. It includes listening, hearing what they need most, and demonstrating the kind of value you can offer in return. Relationship selling is all about leveraging professional solutions for personal connections.
Building Lasting Relationships
Becoming a skilled relational seller is one of the strongest investments you can make with your time and energy. The more conversations you engage in, the more you’ll pick up on what people are looking for.
Concurrently, people will perceive you as remarkably confident and insightful, which always helps in closing the deal. Refer back to this blog post whenever you need to brush up on the basics or educate someone on the essentials.