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The Role of B2B Relationship Selling in a Changing Landscape

Written by Viral Solutions

B2B companies are operating in a digital age, which is unlikely to change anytime soon. In fact, research from Gartner suggests that by 2025, 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place via digital channels. What this means is that companies must adapt to survive. Fortunately, your salespeople don’t need to throw out their old playbooks entirely. Some techniques, such as relationship selling, can still be effective if tailored to fit the current landscape.

What Is Relationship Selling?

Simply put, relationship selling is a technique that focuses on developing a connection with existing and potential clients. It’s a far cry from traditional selling methods, which are all about highlighting the product or service itself. Instead, this approach builds trust, demonstrates care, and offers solutions to a problem or fulfills a need.

How is it done?

Generally, it involves the following:

  • Getting to know the client on a personal level
  • Applying active listening skills during conversations
  • Being genuine and authentic rather than faking it
  • Learning about the client’s pain points and desires
  • Offering value and expert insight in every interaction
  • Delivering on promises to prove trustworthiness
  • Continuing to provide value and support after the sale

Given that the goal is to build positive, mutually beneficial relationships, it makes sense to use it in B2B.

Why Is Relationship Selling Important for B2B Companies?

Ultimately, relationship selling is important because it shows that you truly care about your current and potential customers’ needs. Putting the time and effort into forging a connection with those you serve can help you stand out from the competition. Moreover, it plays a significant role in increasing sales and client satisfaction. 

On average, the B2B sales cycle is much longer due to the number of stakeholders involved and the commitment required. However, embracing this selling technique can give your salespeople an advantage. It can help them build a rapport with clients, demonstrate their knowledge, and fuel confidence in your company as a whole. 

Here are some additional benefits of using relationship selling:

  • Better customization

Most individuals don’t want a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, they want one that is tailored to their budget and needs. And that is exactly what you can provide when you use relationship selling. 

Engaging in active listening during interactions with current and potential clients can yield valuable insights about challenges, preferences, and interests. You can then apply these insights to customize your offerings. Individuals will be more likely to buy and appreciate that you actually listened to them.

  • Repeat business

Focusing on building relationships with clients can also earn you repeat business. Once you establish trust and familiarity, it’s much easier to cross-sell or upsell down the road. Plus, maintaining those relationships means you can look forward to a better retention rate.

  • Increased referrals

A common result of relationship-based selling is increased referrals. The happier your customers are, the more likely they are to recommend your business to others. And you can ensure client satisfaction by nurturing your relationship with them.

Word-of-mouth publicity shouldn’t go overlooked. According to research, 56% of B2B buyers rely on offline word of mouth for information and advice. That number is even higher when you factor in online sources. Therefore, you should work hard to form strong bonds with clients to turn them into promoters for your company. 

How B2B Relationship Selling Is Evolving

The B2B sales landscape has changed over the years, and so have customer expectations. As mentioned previously, B2B companies need to adapt if they want to thrive in this digital era. And part of that involves shifting the approach salespeople take to relationship selling. 

Make no mistake—although this technique has been around for quite some time and seems like an old-school tactic, it can still be incredibly effective. 

However, you and your sales team need to understand the following:

  • What kind of relationship your clients want
  • How your clients prefer to communicate

For starters, B2B buyers today want true partnerships in which they’re respected and understood. But more than that, they want to be treated like real people—like B2C consumers. They expect the companies they buy from to deliver valuable content, personalized messages, and self-service options. And they expect the same level of dedication to the post-sale relationship. 

Further, B2B buyers want companies to meet them where they are. And more often than not, that means online. Although in-person meetings and phone calls still occur, most communication is done through live chat, email, social media, and video conferencing. 

5 Tips for B2B Relationship Selling Today

Though the fundamentals of B2B relationship selling have already been touched on, you may be looking for more specific advice. After all, the last thing you want to do is damage your existing relationships. Fortunately, tailoring this technique to fit the current landscape isn’t as complicated as you may think. 

Here are five tips to help you along the way:

  1. Make the Most of Your CRM Platform

Given that the primary function of CRM technology is to manage your relationships with customers, it’s the ideal tool for relationship selling. That’s why you should make the most of your CRM platform. 

Do more than simply document the interactions you have with current and potential clients. Upload detailed notes about their problems, goals, interests, and hobbies. You can then use this information to personalize your communications. Plus, you can save yourself the headache of trying to remember everything about each client you work with. 

  1. Connect on Social Media

Connecting with current and potential clients on social media is a great way to build relationships. 

Why?

  • It allows you to get to know them on a more personal level.
  • It gives you the opportunity to stay in touch. 
  • It helps you stay top of mind when the time comes to make a buying decision. 

Of course, you must handle this with care. Any comment you leave or message you send must be genuine. Additionally, how you interact with a long-time customer will (and should) differ from how you interact with a lead on LinkedIn. So, keep this in mind to avoid coming off too strong to potential customers. 

  1. Look for Opportunities to Add Value

Delivering value at every stage of the relationship ensures your customers will hold you (and your company) in high regard. That’s why you should constantly look for new opportunities to do so. 

Some examples are as follows:

  • Creating tailored content (e.g., blogs, white papers, e-books)
  • Sourcing helpful resources
  • Providing free upgrades
  • Sending gifts
  • Extending event invitations
  • Offering exclusive perks
  • Giving discounts

Make sure to use what you know about them as guidance. Anything you offer should be beneficial to them specifically.

  1. Provide Ongoing Support

It is crucial to remember that relationship-based selling does not end once the sale is made. The connection between you and your clients must be nurtured. And that means you should focus on providing ongoing support. 

Check in regularly with your clients, help them make the most of the product or service they purchased, and respond promptly when they reach out to you. 

In this day and age, even B2B buyers expect questions and concerns to be addressed quickly. So, consider implementing live chat to make things easier for your clients, customer service team, and salespeople. 

  1. Ask for Feedback

Getting input from the other party is common in any relationship. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to ask for feedback from your clients. Doing so can benefit both of you. 

  • It can make the client feel valued and heard.
  • It can provide you with helpful insights.

Make it easy for your clients to share their thoughts about your company, offerings, and other topics by leveraging the digital tools available to you. For example, create a short questionnaire, poll, or quiz for them to take online. 

Takeaway

Although the B2B sales landscape has changed, relationship selling remains a worthwhile technique for those in this sphere. Using it allows you to prove your value to clients, build trust, and stand out from the competition. And when you leverage this approach within the digital space, you can look forward to greater results overall. 

If your B2B company is struggling to achieve growth, Viral Solutions can help. Request a free consultation today to discuss your challenges with one of our marketing experts. 

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