Updated: Mar 10
Sales can be one of the most stressful and competitive industries to be in but there is also endless potential. Nearly every company values a high performing sales rep that can generate new business. It’s one of the few fields that are always in high demand. Building a relationship with clients can be one of the toughest aspects of a job in sales but it is often what sets exceptional salespeople apart from mediocre salespeople. Particularly for entry-level sales professionals, navigating through a list of prospects and attempting to develop relationships with a handful of them can seem like a herculean task. Here are 5 helpful tips to help turn that list of prospects into a revenue-producing book of business.
Relationship First, Sell Second
Easier said than done. Regardless of the industry you are in, you have sales quotas to meet. I understand that “relationships built” doesn’t show up on any monthly or quarterly review (because you can’t measure it) but having that mindset is extremely short-sighted. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re in sales because of the lucrative potential over time, right? Most salespeople are aggressive and impatient and a large part of making a sale is setting yourself apart from the competition. Focus on getting to know the person on the other side of the conversation. Selling to a friend becomes much easier than selling to a stranger. There is no such thing as business to business sales, it's all people to people. Here’s a secret, people buy from people they like!
Ask for Feedback
Being able to get helpful feedback from clients is crucial to long term success. A lot of salespeople are afraid to ask for feedback for fear of being told things they don’t want to hear but its important for two reasons. First, it can help you build your brand. Take the positive feedback from customers and highlight those things when selling to new prospects. Take some of the success stories you’ve had with previous customers and explain to potential clients how that could be them. Second, it gives you a chance to improve on some of your weaknesses. This will help grow sales with existing business as well as make you more appealing to fresh prospects.
Give Feedback to clients
Feedback is just as important to your clients as it is to you. Sometimes feedback can be as simple as giving them some data on how great you have been for them. For example, “Congratulations! We have done over $100,000 in business in the first quarter. It’s been a pleasure working with you and I’m looking forward to getting that number even higher for Q2!”
Everyone has difficult customers and sometimes they don’t even know they are being difficult. Giving feedback to customers that can be a pain in the neck may alleviate that pain. Think of the classic scene from ‘Jerry Maguire’ where Tom Cruise begs Cuba Gooding Jr. to “Help me help you”. Having an open line of communication is beneficial so that the customer can help you help them.
The key in any business relationship is to create a mutually beneficial arrangement. The phrase, “the customer is always right” has been ingrained into our brains for decades, but sometimes that’s not the case. There is a fine line between providing excellent customer service and being bullied by customers. Especially in sales, you should be seen as an expert in the field who is extremely knowledgable. Clients will respect someone who can stand firm and be confident in what they are selling and not try to bend over backward all the time. At the same time, no one likes doing business with someone who is stubborn. There is a happy medium that can be achieved by applying some simple negotiation skills.
Phone Call over Email
The majority of our communication is nonverbal (some studies say as high as 93%). With that said, you lose a lot of personal touch with emails. Obviously, every client is different and some may prefer email communication but when you have the choice, pick up the phone. Things like tone of voice, mood, accents, and pace are completely lost with email correspondence. You can build a relationship much quicker and more effectively with phone calls rather than emails. Also, it is much easier for a client to ignore an email or say no over email than it is over the phone. You can accomplish much more in a 15-minute phone conversation than you can in a 3-day email chain.