Full 85 percent of the happiness and success you enjoy in life will be determined by the quality of your relationships with others. All of your selling success today, and for the rest of your career, will be based on the quality of the relationships that you form with your customers. Because of the complexity of your product or service, customers are usually unable to make an accurate judgment of the details of what you are selling. Instead, they have to depend upon how they feel about you and your claims. For most customers today, the relationship comes first. It is more important then the product or service itself.
The building and maintaining of high-quality sales relationships proceeds in four stages. We call this the Relationship Selling Model.
The first stage, roughly 40 percent of the sale, is the development of trust. This is best achieved by asking good questions and listening closely to answers. In fact, a recent survey of members of the Purchasing Managers Association of America (PMAA) concluded that the salespeople these professional buyers rated “the best” were the people who asked the most questions before attempting to sell.
The second stage of building high-quality sales relationships, 30 percent of the process, is focusing on identifying the true needs and wants of the prospect.
Instead of talking about what you are selling, you ask questions about the prospect and his or her situation. You probe the answers you get and, as Stephen Covey says, “See first to understand, then to be understood.”
Once you have built a high level of trust by asking questions and seeking to understand how your product or service can help the prospect in some way, you move to stage three.
20 percent of the relationship between you and your customer is presenting solutions. In this stage, you show the prospect how he or she could be better off with what you are selling than he or she is today. You carefully match the prospect’s expressed needs with the specific features and benefits of your product or service.
In phase four, the final 10 percent of the Relationship Selling Model, you ask for confirmation from the prospect to make a decision and take action on your offering. You close the sale.
The relationship selling model is based on trust. You develop trust by asking the customer about his or her needs and then by listening intently to the answers. The more you ask good questions and listen carefully to the customer, the more the customer will trust you and open up to you. When the customer trusts you enough, he or she will tell you everything you need to know to9 either make a sale or to determine that this customer is not a good prospect for what you are selling.
Focus first and foremost on the prospect and the relationship–before anything else. Concentrate on building a high level of trust. Only when you have built a bridge of understanding of the prospect’s real needs should you start talking about what you are selling. When the relationship is strong, the sale will take care of itself.
By Brian Tracy
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