The key to 'Client Intimacy' in this modern business world : Are you a relationship-style seller or a transactional-style seller?
Anne C. Taylor
Vice Presidente, Client Executive, Transportation Unit
Client intimacy is the cultivation of relationships with clients to make them feel like they are in a partnership with a provider rather than in a pure business arrangement. Companies accomplish this through communications tailored to the needs of the client and marketing campaigns that create a sense of connection with the company and the products. This concept rose to prominence in the 1990s as many companies started to make it part of their business strategy.
Promoting is an important method of communicating the benefits of a product or service. However, such a traditional way of selling is more concerned with making a sale and does not take into account the development of a long-term relationship with the client. It has been shown over the last two decades that the relationship-style selling is a more successful method and ultimately improves your retention rate with your clients.
To enable intimacy, your relationship with clients must be built upon mutual trust. Listening will enable you to internalize and understand their most pressing needs in order to provide feedback that will help solve their problems. Your client must know that they can rely upon your word. Integrity and consistency are extremely important. As trust grows, so will your relationship and strength of influence with your clients.
So, you ask, what are some tools to accomplish this? Well, every one of us has the very best tool within ourselves. Your best relationship-style selling tools are your communication and listening skills. It is a two way relationship, but with more onus on you to understand the needs, likes, dislikes and risk tolerance of your client so you can anticipate their concerns and be ready with a solution. It is a long term process that requires serious and consistent investment, but the rewards will remain with you for the long haul.
How do you identify a “relationship buyer” as opposed to a “transactional buyer”?
Transactional buyers are people who won’t answer your questions, demand you submit a bid or want to know “how much” while not providing any information in return. Your success, however, lies in how you deal with them rather than in adjusting your selling style to match their buying mode. It will be a short-term gain until the competitor across the street drops it by a dollar.
Some facts about “relationship buyers”:
1. Relationship buyers consider today’s purchase to be one in a long series of many future purchases. They are looking less for a product than for a partner in their business solutions and growth on a long term basis.
2. They fear making a poor choice. Relational shoppers will purchase as soon as they have confidence and trust in their advisor.
3. They don’t enjoy the process of shopping and negotiating. They look for a “trusted” advisor so as to avoid repeating the process over again.
4. Relational shoppers are looking principally for an expert they can transfer their business needs to but also their own worries about these needs. If they have a trusted advisor that does the “worrying” for them, you have solved one more of their problems.
It is the seller’s responsibility to understand its audience even when the buyer might not be able to define what type of buyer he or she is. However, once you identify and look after all the above points, the buyer will suddenly realize that you have solved all these issues for him or her.
The bottom line is that to be successful in selling – any kind of selling – you have to make it personal. People do business with people, not with companies. Take the time to get to know your prospects/clients personally rather than trying to dazzle them with your knowledge of the product; that opportunity will present itself once you’ve built the relationship.
So, the bottom line is to go out there and create a relationship with a prospect by which they will feel loyal towards you. After all, it’s much harder to break up with a friend than a stranger.