Just What Is Relationship Selling?

by | Feb 2, 2017

Relationship selling is one of the sales buzz words of today’s selling environment. Sales consultants have been told that in order to sell, they have to build relationships with their clients… But just what does this mean? Some have taken it to mean becoming best buddies and hanging out. Others would look for things in common so they can make small talk about hobbies or family. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these strategies. However, the problem is that many prospects have become weary of sales consultants wasting their time with idle chit-chat. How do you develop business relationships with today’s overwhelmed and busy buyers?

Relationship Selling Means Reciprocating Value

Business relationships have a lot in common with friendships. One principle that universally applies is the law of reciprocation. When you do a favour for a person, they feel obliged (happy) to give back. Note here that the favour must be given first, and that not everyone will reciprocate!

I always encourage my audiences to focus on giving when making their first call. While every other sales consultant is calling to talk about their products and company, you can immediately differentiate yourself by focusing on giving value. Whether it’s research findings, industry news, or a diagnostic report, find some way to offer value to earn their time.

Relationship Selling Means Building Trust

Relationships are built on trust. As Stephen Covey writes in his book The Speed of Trust, high trust relationships increase business collaboration, value, and loyalty. He asserts that you build trust by demonstrating integrity, the right intent, capability, and results. In simple terms, you must deliver on your promises.

Have you ever said that the product will arrive on Friday, knowing that it will probably arrive later? Do you ever make exaggerations on your product’s capabilities? A single broken word can destroy your credibility, so as a rule-of-thumb, make sure you under-promise and over-deliver!

Relationship Selling Means Being Indispensable

The best relationships are win-win. They are symbiotic – neither can do without the other. You may not completely depend on the revenue from one client, but would your client miss you if you left? The top sales consultants of this generation are those who are so well-informed that their advice is invaluable. They are essentially part of the team.

Are you keeping up-to-date with the latest sales techniques (you’re off to a great start by reading this!)? Are you across industry news? Make yourself indispensable by sharpening your most important tool – your mind!


Relationship selling is much more than being chummy with your clients. You must be centred on giving value, keep your promises, and be indispensable. The mindset will prevent you from being “salesy,” building mutually enjoyable and profitable relationships.

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