Creating Memorable Buyer Experiences Through Authentic Relationships
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At the end of the day, a won deal can often come down to the relationships customers have with a seller. To help build and secure meaningful relationships, reps need to be able to differentiate themselves from the competition by creating memorable experiences for buyers.
“The importance of standing out to that customer of real true intrinsic value is becoming absolutely critical,” said Aaron Evans, director of sales enablement at GlobalData Plc. “I’m trying to add as much value as possible before we ask for something in return.”
At its core, delivering an experience that cuts above the noise means providing genuine value at every turn. While proving how their products or services fit a buyer’s needs is an important part of the sales process, providing meaningful value comes down to trust and loyalty. By thinking about the person and the long-term relationship, not just the deal or the quota on the line, reps can be empowered to create experiences that benefit the individual buyer.
Here are three tips to build long-lasting relationships and create memorable buyer experiences, and how enablement can help.
Make a First Impression Matter
A customer’s first impression of a rep can be a defining moment for the rest of the relationship. Since initial impressions happen almost immediately in the first meeting, it is important that reps are well-practiced and ready to speak to the value they can deliver based on the individual on the other side.
“If you could start off strong, you have a much better chance of really building on that good first impression,” said Julie Hansen, author and sales presentation expert. “The thing about first impressions is that really, most of the work starts before you get on the call before you get in front of the customer.”
Sales enablement can help facilitate this preparation by guiding reps through the following steps:
- Prepare: Prior to a sales call, a rep should be ready to discuss the details of both their own solutions, but also the objectives of the buyer. Enablement professionals can guide reps through the process of researching a customer to discover who they are, what they are looking for, and what is most valuable to them. Being prepared shows a customer that a rep cares about their first impression with them and came to the table ready to dig deeper.
- Warm-Up: Warming up ahead of a call or meeting can help reps get into the right headspace for the conversation. For example, setting aside a few minutes to review any preparation notes, conducting vocal or motor exercises, or finding a quiet place to practice delivering key points can help center a rep’s focus and prepare them to actively listen during the conversation.
- Set an Intention: An intention helps guide the call in a productive way for both the customer and seller by providing a clear reason and direction for mutual benefit. Setting an intention shows the buyer that the rep is focused on them and their needs from the beginning.
- Ready to React: Reps should be prepared to react to anything that comes their way from a customer. Being prepared to actively listen and respond with value demonstrates a willingness to collaborate and work together to find a solution rather than deliver canned responses or push a buyer in a direction that they might not want to go in. By practicing listening and reaction skills during simulations, reps can be more prepared to think on their feet based on how a conversation transpires in the moment.
“Being in the moment, you have to certainly do all the prep you can do to be physically, mentally, and vocally prepared, know what you’re going to say, how things might go, and then you have to just be present,” said Hansen.
Establish Trust by Developing Soft Skills
Building buyer relationships on a foundation of trust and professional vulnerability can help foster long-term sustainability. To create trust and develop better relationships, soft skills such as empathy for the customer, reliable communication, and a collaborative mindset can be the key to understanding buyers on a deeper, more human-to-human level. Ultimately, this will help reps solve buyer problems better and more consistently.
“I think sales enablement can become the facilitators towards some of these soft skills to help salespeople learn what it means to sell with dignity and sell with the heart and truly connect to the clients,” said Larry Levine, author of “Selling From the Heart”.
By using soft skills to discover what the customer wants, needs, and values, a seller is better able to achieve trust because they understand their customer’s underlying motivations.
Creating trust in a buyer-seller relationship also comes from sharing and being vulnerable with the customer. This makes the relationship go deeper through reciprocation, differentiating the rep from another because the seller knows who their rep is, what they stand for, and how they will go above and beyond to support them.
“You need to be vulnerable to establish trust with people,” said Jeff Kirchick, author and vice president of sales at Colossus. “It’s not easy to tell people things that are personal or difficult. When people see that you are going out of your way to want to tell those stories, they will view you as somebody who’s honest.”
Prove Accountability and Loyalty
After a rep establishes initial trust with a customer, it is important to grow and sustain that relationship over time by demonstrating loyalty and accountability.
“I believe trust gets you in the door, loyalty keeps you there,” said Darrell Amy, growth strategist and author of “Revenue Growth Engine”.
Accountability includes following through on commitments such as meeting agreed-upon deadlines, following up in a timely manner, and coming to meetings prepared. However, it also includes honesty and humility, such as admitting to mistakes, being transparent, and continuously offering value even if it isn’t directly related to the deal. This accountability shows a customer that their rep is being authentic with them, laying the foundation for loyalty.
When a rep is authentic with a customer, the customer tends to intrinsically feel connected to them, which is essential to nurture long-term customer retention. When a buyer feels a strong sense of connection to a rep, they will typically go to them first with their hesitations, questions, or feedback rather than another individual or organization. If the rep can then help the customer find a solution, this sense of loyalty becomes even stronger and bonds the buyer-seller relationship.
From the first impression to the final sale and beyond, authenticity can help reps build meaningful relationships and memorable experiences for buyers. Often, the ability to create an authentic buyer-seller relationship can make the difference between a win or a deal lost. As such, its importance cannot be overstated. By creating a positive and effective buying experience for a customer, sales enablement can help drive long-term customer loyalty.
“With the journey with customers, there’s the product, there’s the company, there’s the solution, there’s service-centric skill sets that enablement brings to the forefront,” said Levine. “But if I asked a group of sales teams and leaders if relationships matter to them, there’s going to be an overarching 100%, absolutely.”