In today’s commoditized business climate I think what sets companies apart with a complex sale is how well they build and cultivate relationships.
Over the years, I’ve observed a truth; and this truth will requires many sales people to reconsider how they think selling should be done.
The truth is, average sales people think they are most effective when they talk with someone WHEN they are ready to buy, but top performers seek to build relationships with the right people in the right companies BEFORE they’re ready to buy.
This is where marketing can have a profound impact by helping their sales team go beyond the lead.
Today’s prospects have a general lack of trust and they simply don’t want to be sold. They are weary of pitches, hype, pushy sales people and manipulative marketing tactics. They are time constrained and too busy to think or strategize. So what do they do with most sales and marketing messages? They simply ignore them.
For this reason, I think it’s critical to contact and have initial conversations with our future customers that are devoid of sales pitches. Quite literally when we begin a conversation with them, their attitudes and beliefs are being shaped, primed by the information they have already soaked up through various sources.
Be a resource to them regardless of their timing to buy. Otherwise, they are likely to get information from the internet or uninformed colleagues, trade publications or heaven forbid your competitors. In other words, we need to move from lead generation campaigns to conversations.
Sellers can make the biggest impact early on in the buying process, or before it happens by developing relationships with potential clients and becoming a trusted advisor. The best way to do this is by starting with what we call the “human touch.” A personal phone call to the right person that is free of sales hype is the best way to build relationships that lead to positive sales results.
Relationship building with prospects is part of the overall lead nurturing process.
The goal of lead nurturing is to maintain a relevant and consistent dialog with viable leads – regardless of their timing to buy – until they are sales ready. A key aspect of lead nurturing is the ability to provide valuable education and information to prospects up front. In this way you will be able to position yourself as a trusted advisor and perhaps even a thought leader.
I was honored to speak at the Jill Konrath’s Sales Shebang. Jill posted a summary of what I shared on the Selling to Big Companies blog. It includes specific tips on how you can leverage thought leadership to win more sales with lead nurturing.
Read: Leverage Thought Leadership to Win More Sales (with Nurturing)