Relationship selling isn’t dead. But selling based purely on relationships is increasingly rare.
Relationships in sales will always give you an advantage. Getting the return phone call, differentiating yourself over others at the start of the sales process is an instant advantage.
But relationships have nothing to do with need. They don’t translate into product or service results on their own.
I may know you, and trust you. But today’s buying environment – when another 5.8 people are involved, on average, in making the purchase decision according to CEB now Gartner – is about more than just your relationship. Does your rolodex have equal sway over the entire buying committee? Is your golfing buddy willing to stake their reputation (and potentially their job) on your drinking history?
Too often I see companies prioritize sales reps based on their network. They look for people with great industry rolodexes.
That looks, and feels, great initially. Lots of conversations, lots of early engagement. But rarely does that translate into long-term results.
Rolodexes are fleeting, and sooner or later they dry up. Can your sales team sell without a prior relationship? Can they create value and differentiation by challenging a prospect’s status quo?
Your best, most successful long-term sales reps will know how to sell in a sustainable way, not just work their rolodex.