A sales trainer I once knew loved to take his clients away for a week’s bootcamp in a nice location and teach them to make high end B2B sales over the phone. He would boast at the end of the week how many hundreds of thousands of dollars of sales were ‘done’. I know people who were there, and they came away from the week exhilarated and exhausted. They had stretched themselves, learned a sales process and a whole lot of objection handling techniques that enabled them to sell their services better than ever before.
The challenge was that the ‘new clients’ they had just signed up only vaguely knew them. They had been taken through a slick sales process and in the moment had decided to buy. I know for a fact that more than 50% of the people ‘sold’ had buyer’s remorse and failed to follow through. And many of those who stayed and became new clients were a poor fit for those selling. The whole process left a sour taste in the mouth of many of the purchasers. And over the next 6 months quite a few of the sellers also became disillusioned.
Business success is more about building trust than making money
Trust is the currency of healthy relationships. Healthy relationships lead to people wanting to do business with you. If people know you, they are more likely to be willing to purchase your services. If they like you, they will be even more likely to buy from you. If you consistently deliver what you promise with your services, trust develops. If people trust you, they will continue to buy from you and are likely to recommend you to their friends. The healthy trusting relationship built over time enables a business to grow strongly.
Strong relationships take time
I see this in the networking groups of which I am a member. I have been a member, a support partner and now a Board Member of the Sydney Hills Business Chamber for 8 years. I have also been a member of BNI Corporate in Parramatta for the past 3 years. Both networking groups have been hugely beneficial to my business. The benefit has come over time.
I did not receive any business from the Hills Chamber in the first 12 months of membership. I met hundreds of wonderful businesspeople, many of whom are now good friends. Into my second year, as I gained credibility, I was able to pitch my services to a few businesses. I have since worked with many members who have become clients. The financial return on my membership fee and networking time invested has been well worth it.
The same has occurred with BNI. In the first year I did reasonably well, but the growth of quality referrals has really come in the 2nd and 3rd years of membership. My business is doing well. During a recent tax planning exercise, I noticed that almost 75% of my income for this tax year came from my involvement in these two networking groups. I have made a strong commitment to both groups and consistently work at connecting with and adding value to other members. My approach is to give and to be helpful. Over time I have built many hundreds of business connections and I enjoy connecting people I know, like and trust.
Those in business to make money quickly often try to fudge relationships.
I have watched so many people join the Business Chamber or BNI and expect to get business immediately. They turn up full of energy and happy to meet lots of people. They try to sell to other members before anyone has had time to get to know them. They are unwilling or unable to spend the time required to build relationships. They become disillusioned very quickly because the only currency they understand is money. They want transactions. They do not understand people or how business really works. They typically create a buzz for a couple of months and then their attendance falters. We don’t see them as much. Soon I hear that they have decided that it just wasn’t working for them, and they are now trying to sell their services in another area or in some other way.
Selling high end business services without a relationship is fraught
If your service is reasonably expensive and involves your prospect learning to trust your expertise and your credibility, then most will need to get to know you to some degree before they buy. Good testimonials from people they know help. Being able to call past clients and talk with them can speed up the process. If you invest the time to become part of a healthy business community your credibility grows stronger.
The key to business success is repeat business. The key to repeat business is building a strong relationship with your clients. As you add value to your clients and build a strong client relationship, you are more likely for them to tell others about you and your services. Business is more relational than transactional. If a transaction occurs without a relationship, it is unlikely to lead to repeat business unless a trusting relationship develops. As we serve our clients, we must guard the relationship so that trust is always able to grow.
A few tips to build and maintain trust
- Do what you say you will do. g., Turn up on time, follow through on promises
- Be consistent – in your service, your mood, your energy, your commitment to the client, and in living your values.
- Add consistent value – always seek to deliver more than you promise
- Follow people up – Check in with your clients in between sessions – take a personal interest in them.
- Connect people – g., with other good people who will add value to their business
- Speak the truth kindly – you can deliver even tough messages in a kind way, as a business advisor what use am I if I do not warn a client about a problem I see?
Not everyone is a natural at relationships
The truth is that not everyone is good at connecting with people. Some hate networking. Some are not natural at getting to know people. They prefer to hide behind emails and other direct marketing strategies. These can work if you are selling a product or a process that is easy to understand and does not depend on a relationship to make it work.
If you supply B2B services relationships are crucial. Being good at building relationships is a vital skill to be learned. If you find you struggle in connecting with your prospects and business networking is challenging for you, there are things you can do. I’d love to help you.
If you would like to have a free no obligation conversation about your situation and how I may be able to help you, please click this link