Relationship Selling Techniques Don’t Work in the Digital Era

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In sales, the old adage, “It’s not what you know, but who you know” ruled supreme for years.

Relationship selling – a technique that employed personal associations to close sales – was a common strategy. Today, it’s obsolete and sales professionals must rethink sales strategies if they want to close the deal.

“Technology has advanced more in the last seven years than in our entire lifetime,” says Sanjay J. Dhebar, a program facilitator at the Schulich Executive Education Centre and an instructor in York University’s Schulich School of Business. “That means you need to provide customers with insights they don’t already have rather than thinking the strength of your relationships will carry you.”

That’s why forgoing a one-size-fits-all solution approach in favour of developing a deeper understanding of customers’ needs that leaves room for customization is now one of the most effective sales strategies. It’s an approach that starts with becoming a subject matter expert on the marketplace and its trends, the competition and why someone should buy from you, says Dhebar.

“Having a conversation that demonstrates you truly understand the market will allow your customer to gain trust in you as a source of knowledge rather than just someone trying to sell to them,” says Dhebar. “For that to happen, you first have to understand the psychological profile of your customers, which allows you to adjust your way of selling. The other parts are listening to uncover new information, which the customer may not normally tell you if you’re dominating the conversation and taking an agile sales approach that allows you to make adjustments on the fly, during the discussion, that suit your customer’s needs.”

The evolution of sales strategies is the reason the online Winning Sales Strategies course Dhebar facilitates for the Executive Education Centre was created — and what makes it particularly relevant, popular and necessary. Geared towards account managers, sales leaders and small business owners, it teaches proven client communication skills and sales development approaches used by forward-thinking sales professionals.

“This course is updated yearly with the latest best practices and new methods of various sectors,” says Dhebar, whose own diverse background includes various commercial management roles for both start-ups and established companies. “These skills are also transferable beyond client-facing. If you’re writing a proposal, for example, to gain resources for your department, you’re selling your department’s requirements. Having a balanced skill set that includes persuasion skills is crucial to improving your performance in today’s work landscape.”

Sanjay Dhebar photoSanjay Dhebar is the facilitator for Winning Sales Strategies, SEEC’s self-paced online program for sales professionals who want to update their approach to selling. Registration is available now and the program can be completed in as little as five weeks. To register, visit the program web page.

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