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on June 13, 2013

Why Relationships Trump Leads

People Buy From People
 

Our Current Sales Process

Let’s take a look at how we sell today: We receive leads from marketing and as Sales people, we try to close them. We’re satisfied with the end, which starts with 100 leads, but results in 2-3 opportunities. As Sales Organizations, we continue to buy leads through Marketing data and hire more Inside Sales but still get roughly the same outcome. The question is: Should we accept the status quo? If not, what can we do to improve our sales numbers?

Aim to Exceed the Status Quo

There are only two ways to improve your sales numbers:

  • More quantity at the top of the funnel (buy more leads).

or

  • Better conversion ratios throughout your funnel.

Any seasoned Sales professional knows that improving conversion ratios is the best path to success. Even so, it has been the most elusive item to achieve. Why is that? The only answer here is to look at what you actually have in your control as a Sales rep or team to improve the conversion ratio. In my view, there are two way to look at this:

  • Better Tools (such as Introhive).

or

  • Better experiences delivered by people that represent your products (in this case, the Sales people).

Let’s focus on the latter – What your Sales professionals can do to improve the conversion ratios by asking what they have in their control:

  • The Need: No Sales person has ever succeeded by creating need. Instead, it is only by bringing existing need out into the open and matching their solutions to it really well that they win
  • The Product: Sales people might give feedback to the Product Team. However, they rarely are in control of the product. The choice they have here is to choose a company with a product they really believe in – one the feel they can sell well as it meets or exceeds prospects needs.
  • The Relationship: Sales people have almost 100% control of how they choose to build a relationship with the people they are trying to sell to. Whenever we do have control, there are tactics and strategies that can help us be successful.

Since the relationship is something we can truly manage as Sales individuals, let’s take a closer look at it.

Why You Should Focus on Relationships

Many Sales people find themselves in the commoditized industry which means they’re selling a product that is marginally different than some competitors. This makes differentiation of the product alone very challenging. In addition, it’s hard to improve conversion ratios based exclusively on a product development strategy.

One of the oldest truisms in Sales is:

People buy from people’ (extended version: ‘People buy from people they trust’)
Tweet this quote

This means that, if we are able to get people to experience a deeper level of trust in us, we should be able to dramatically improve chances of winning business – no matter how competitive the deal is. Trust, for example, comes from successfully building a meaningful and relevant relationship. Therefore, if you and your sales team invest in developing a skillset that will allow you to build these types of relationships in rapid ways, the result will be significantly increased conversion ratios. In summary, by focusing your team’s ability to develop and maintain meaningful and relevant relationships, you can impact the success of your company as well as your own.

What Did We Learn?

You can’t rely on product differentiation as a competitive advantage to win deals. In contrast, you can always rely on your team’s ability to develop powerful relationships. Relationships are one of the few means to achieve sustainable differentiation in the marketplace. (Ask yourself – once you have become a fan of one sports team – how often to you switch? – the same is true for sales people – if you turn prospects into real fans of you – they will last a long time – often a whole career). It comes down to how the people feel about the interactions they have with the people that work in your company.

This is not to be confused with the brand of the company as we are talking about real relationships between two people. Having said that, I think it’s important to have a good product. The product itself has to be up to date and a viable solution built on high quality principals. It’s what I call Table stakes, your invitation to play the game. However, once admitted to the game, relationships are the area you can make the differentiation between winning and losing. All you have to do is ensure that you and your team has the ability to do so.

About the Author:

Patrick Ewers

Patrick Ewers, is the CEO of Mindmavin, a company the focuses on improving the Relationship Management skills of sales organizations. By teaching individuals to become very effective in delivering meaningful experiences and developing deeper relationships throughout the entire buying cycle firms can dramatically impact the bottom line by winning more business. This approach allows helps sales people to loose a little of their myopic quarter to quarter focus by utilizing these skills to develop relationships habitually with prospects that will buy at one point, but simply not this quarter. Patrick was one of the earliest team members of LinkedIn, has engineered numerous sales processes and has a background in demand generation. You can reach him at patrick@mindmavin.com or read more about his work at www.mindmavin.com.

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