Stop Selling and Start Building Relationships

Updated on 2 March 2020

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customer relationships

By: Guest Thought Leader, Themba Nkuna, author, sales coach and founder of How to Sell Academy

As a sales coach who provides training and coaching in different industries such as manufacturing, information technology, insurance and retail and working closely with both sales executives and sales leaders, I have often asked myself what is important to selling successfully. I’ve come to realise that it is important to both look for new customers and to take care of existing customers.

Your biggest salespeople are your customers

Sell more to existing customers

Once you have established reliable relationships with your existing clients, opportunities to resell, upsell and cross-sell will emerge, as a result there might not even be a need to allocate an comprehensive budget to advertising because of the relationships you’ve built with your existing customers.

If your customers realise that you care about them, they may refer other customers to use your services

Consider this: Relationships come first – customers don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care; do not be quick to sell.

Your biggest salespeople are your customers. People do business with people they know and trust, and mostly with people they like. If your customers realise that you care about them, they are more likely to refer other potential customers to use your services.

Remember that you are also a customer, would you refer people you know to someone who doesn’t care about you?

In the process of selling, first build rapport. Plant a seed that will bear fruits you will be able to harvest later. The first time you meet someone, don’t be quick to want to sell to them; get to know them instead, ask them what they do, and listen for an opportunity to find a synergy – something you both have an interest in. Finding something you both like is the best way to build a relationship. This is where everything starts.

Share briefly what you do, but don’t push for a sale. Plant that seed! Ask for another meeting so you can show them what you do.

The first time you meet someone, don’t be quick to want to sell to them, get to know them instead

Having said all this, I’ve learned that many at times when customers don’t buy (from you) it’s usually not about the price, but rather because they don’t know you, trust you or like you. They’ll use price as an objection to say, ‘STAY AWAY FROM ME’.

Here’s how you can build customer relationships:

1. Visit them as often as you can, not to ask for business but to check up on them.

2. If you can’t visit them, call them or send an email.

3. Ask them out for lunch not to discuss business but just to enjoy the food.

4. Invite them to an activity like a round of golf, a soccer match or rugby, etc.

5. Come up other strategic ways to strengthen your relationships with clients.

ALSO READ: Some of the most Useful Sales Advice We’ve Received

Last point to consider: After you’ve made the sale, it does not mean that you should abandon your existing customers to focus on chasing the next customer. Do not be impressed by short-term success, or by the idea of making quick money and in doing so, miss the opportunity to make sales for a longer period.

In conclusion, salespeople or companies that will thrive in this era are those who look beyond making a sale, and are interested in building relationships with their customers for the long term.

ALSO READ: The Rules of Sales – What Most SA Entrepreneurs Were Never Taught

About the Author: Themba Nkuna is the founder of How to Sell Academy, a private company that offers Sales Mastery and Competitive Intelligence strategies. He’s the author of four books including the sales book: Hit that sales target.

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