In our previous post, we looked at the first strategy for building better sales relationships–leveraging shared values. Our second strategy is to enhance our personal value to prospects or customers, otherwise known as “relationship benefits.”
Defining Relationship Benefits
This strategy entails focusing on creating clearly recognizable relationship benefits. Simply put, relationship benefits relate to the old “what’s in it for me” question in a business relationship. While prospects and partners don’t want to feel you’re only hanging around for your own selfish personal gain, they don’t have any trouble desiring something from the relationship for themselves.
Relationship benefits stem from a variety of areas. Let’s place ourselves in the shoes of the prospect or partner and examine just a few of the more powerful ones:
Knowledge/expertise. As a prospect, I might derive some benefit from a relationship with you if you bring some unique knowledge or expertise to the table that will make my life easier or make me look good to people important to me.
Future gain. I might want to build a relationship with you if I can foresee some future role you might play in my life. Perhaps someday I will hit you up for a job reference or you’ll reveal your secret fishing spot to me?
Mutual connection. I might find it beneficial to develop a relationship with you if we share a mutual relationship (particularly one of some importance to me). Since you’re best friends with my boss’ wife, it would behoove me to play nice.
Network access. This is similar to the mutual connection benefit source, except you and I may not currently share a connection. I might find it beneficial to have a relationship with you because I know you’re well-connected to others whose interests parallel mine.
Fame or notoriety. Sometimes it’s just cool to say you know someone due to their status or notoriety. I might desire a relationship with you because you are a known success in your industry, you write a widely-read blog, or you just won an Oscar.
Strategies for Building Relationship Benefits
Examining closely each of the possible benefits above can give you clues on how to enhance prospect or partner relationship benefits. These sources of relationship benefits rarely occur by themselves, but are instead typically interconnected. In fact, the best strategy to employ as a salesperson is to create and leverage as many of these benefits as possible in tandem.
Take, for example, your humble blog authors and our approach to building relationship benefits for our sales consulting business—Galain Solutions, Inc.
Rick and I have extensive experience and success in leading government sales and marketing organizations which reinforces our story as offering solid knowledge/expertise. We are publishing a book, are regular contributors to Sales & Marketing Management magazine online, and have received media attention because of our expertise. This enhances our fame/notoriety. Because of our experience, reputation and other efforts, we have developed a strong network of government sales professionals and government officials. With a strong network comes a high likelihood of us sharing a mutual connection with our prospects, a regular occurrence for us (particularly in certain segments of the market in which we have deep experience). Finally, considering all these elements together, it is reasonable for a prospect to conclude there might be some future gain associated with working closely with us through a consulting engagement (they’d be right).
By examining closely and building intentionally your own “levers” for enhancing relationship benefits, you’ll find prospects and customers looking to you as a valuable resource. When this happens, prospects call you (no cold-calling), customers stay loyal, and referrals are made–all key elements to sales success.
Next time, we’ll look at another relationship-building strategy–increasing termination costs. Until then, happy hunting.
All the best,