Being in business for over 20 years, I’ve seen different approaches to selling take hold and become effective over time. One of the things that I’ve noticed through COVID is how important relationship selling is - and will be in the future.
When scaling a business, the easy ways to attract and retain customers are by email, phone or LinkedIn. But these outbound motions are becoming incredibly difficult and their effectiveness is now very low - necessitating a re-think of relationship building.
The effects of a post-COVID business world
The phone channels are dead because no one has a desk phone anymore.
People can choose to ignore their mobile phone if they don’t recognize the number.
Email selling is gone because spam filters take cold emails straight out of your inbox.
You can still connect with people on LinkedIn and hope to engage with them, but it doesn't wants its channel to be used for spam; there's now more constraints so it doesn’t lose its value and people don’t leave. It's already harder to connect to unknown people as the platform has limited the number of searches and connections you can do in a day.
Why relationships matter more after COVID
What we're going to see from this is organizations shifting back to relationship selling.
Your team have to now really think about how they can build tighter relationships with their prospective customers. The big challenge with this is that it’s incredibly expensive.
If you already have a really strong brand, it does the heavy lifting for you and your customers come to you. But if you don't have a strong brand, you could invest in a highly skilled enterprise sales team who go to market and build relationships for you or go all in on partnerships and alliances. Partners or system integrators can be a good but expensive way to do business. Either way, you're going to need to scale up and have highly qualified enterprise sales people, or an alliance team to build those relationships.
Another option is to build your own community. This involves determining who you sell to, and then creating a safe, interesting and engaging place for like-minded people to get together. We’re already seeing indicators of people doing this - I’ve certainly noticed more people asking me to join their group on LinkedIn.
It's the end of the easy sell era
This new business landscape marks the end of the easy sell - which means organizations are going to have to go back to the tried and true method of relationship selling.
This means every organization will be investing a lot more in selling and your cost of sales will dramatically increase over the next 18 months. It's going to be particularly hard for those cultures and organizations that haven’t been relationship-based in the past.
That's why I think it’s important for businesses to start thinking about relationships now.
It's time to lift the lid on your organization
At times like these, the value of data and understanding your business is more important than ever. So, how well do you understand your business?