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Why it's a "No-brainer" that Relationship-building Skills are Vital to Success in any Influencing or Sales Scenario

Are you in a role where you use (or would like to use) your knowledge or skills to influence others?  

Whether or not your job title includes “sales”, we can all benefit from “selling” our ideas to others. Your role may directly involve sales if you are required to generate leads and meet sales quotas. However, you can still be an effective “seller” in a role that includes delivering information of any sort or teaching others a skill where you need to persuade others to give you their time and attention. Skills often associated with being an effective salesperson, such as communication, negotiation, analytics, coordination, problem-solving, and the ability to work in a team, can benefit anyone working in any role.

Now that we’ve established that “Sales” is a very broad term, let’s talk about how we can be more successful in the “sales” (AKA influencing) aspect of any career.

Fuse – Igniting Communication adapted below this blog post titled “Self-awareness in selling: it’s all about them” from our main learning & development tool-provider, Insights Discovery:  

Why amping up your teams’ relationship skills could be the most profitable thing you do ever!

People buy from you when they know you, like you, and trust you. But is that all?

There’s so much more to the story. We live in interesting times, and the sales function has evolved recently. Whereas decades ago, taking a human-centered approach to sales was novel, today it’s intrinsic to the way we do business.

Earning a prospect’s attention, let alone their trust, requires a deep level of authenticity and awareness, and an understanding of how we impact others and how they perceive us. Failure to develop these skills on your sales team could result in your prospects creating distance rather than being available for you.


Why traditional sales methodologies fail

The pandemic changed us. It changed our relationships, our expectations, and the way we relate to each other. We learned that when we greet someone with, “How are you?” we need to listen for a genuine answer. We learned the importance of checking in with people, and that the ‘company’ we’re selling to isn’t a company at all. It’s a collection of real people, and each person has their own goals and concerns, and are under the same stress as the rest of us, even if they express it differently.

Traditional sales methodologies look at process and strategy, but we believe that true influence is a result of developing the right dynamic between your salesperson and your customer.

Old approaches to sales; cold calling, high-volume networking, fear-based selling, etc., may still have a role to play in your strategy, but unless your sales professionals understand how to weave elements of awareness and authenticity into their approach, these tactics are likely to be received with apathy or indifference at best, and hostility at worst.


Why we must upskill our sales teams right now

Knowing, liking, and trusting simply isn’t enough. You need to foster enriching conversations, deep relationships, and act as a trusted advisor with the client’s true interests at heart.

How do you make your prospects feel comfortable and confident in you/your organization?

It’s important to train salespeople to see the person behind the customer.

It feels like this should come naturally to most, but the individuals on your sales team are as diverse as the prospects they’re working to influence, and each prospect requires a different approach to create a meaningful relationship.

A good place to start is developing self-awareness about how we ourselves show up in relationships, and how we ourselves react to different personalities. Only then can we expand our awareness of how we impact others.

Through a deep understanding of oneself and others, salespeople can manage the impact they have on prospects and influence better outcomes.

Think of it like this: You can have the same intent for multiple conversations, but no two conversations will ever be the same. What you’re selling may be the same, but you – and the person to whom you’re speaking – are different and will create a different dynamic. That dynamic may help move the sales effort along or throw it entirely off track.

The key to success is the salesperson’s ability to adapt differently to each prospect, creating a dynamic that works for them, yet to remain grounded in their authentic and self-aware selves.


Why invest in a person-centered approach to sales?

The title of this section is a bit like asking, ‘What’s the value in being happy?’ Not only does adopting a person-centered approach feel more natural and rewarding for both the salesperson and the prospect, but there’s also a powerful business argument to be made.

In 2014, hundreds of companies were analyzed by Implisit using Salesforce for B2B sales and found that “The most important metric, leads to deal, shows one clear winner. 3.6% of employee and customer referrals convert to deals, higher than any other channel.”

Having strong relationships, where human-to-human referrals are made willingly and often, is the best sales tool for any organization.


Meaningful customer focus

Ask yourself what your prospect really needs. Sure, they need a program to do x,y & z, but WHY? And how is this goal of value to them personally? Furthermore, how can that be communicated in a way that’s meaningful to them?

For example, would it be better to focus on data and subject matter expertise, or to focus on building the personal relationship and the open sharing of hopes and concerns?

More closing opportunities

When we see our prospects as a whole person, with their own hopes and fears, and we take the time to actively listen to what’s happening in their workplace, we can anticipate and prepare for objections and concerns.

‘Handling objections’ conversations don’t devolve into a competition (at which point the sale is lost for sure) because the salesperson knows how to keep the conversation in a place where the prospect feels safe enough to express their concerns without feeling the need to challenge.


Customer empathy

We’d all like to think we’re empathetic, but in reality, we’re not. Truly being able to adopt another’s frame of reference or philosophy, without judgment or agenda takes time to learn. When learned, it’s a powerful skill that empowers salespeople to become versatile throughout all interactions while maintaining that trust-building authenticity.


A faster sales cycle

Back to that 2014 Implisit study using Salesforce for B2B sales, it was also found that the average time to convert a lead to an opportunity is 84 days. The average time to convert an opportunity into an actual revenue-generating deal is another 18 days, and only 6% convert.

Of course, these numbers vary from sector to sector and channel to channel, but the point is to get you thinking about your team’s existing close rate, and what it would mean to the business to increase either the rate itself or the time it takes to get there.

Now factor in faster and more effective onboarding of new salespeople. This article is not about team effectiveness (another big positive resulting from Fuse’s Insights Discovery and Team Effectiveness sessions). However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that an employee who’s trained to have self-awareness, who can understand and adapt to others, is going to be a more effective force on the team and can impact positive outcomes quickly.

Better customer retention and loyalty

Your customers are searching for meaning in their roles and their interactions, which is why the best sales leaders know that self-awareness and true empathy is critical to establishing successful and long-term relationships.

Those solid relationships are foundational to a company’s ability to reactivate and reengage clients and increase account penetration with active clients.

Although much of this article focuses on new client acquisition, it costs more to acquire a new client than retain an existing one, which is why the ROI of building deep connections with others can have a massive impact on your bottom line.

To discover how Insights Discovery's Sales & Influencing Effectiveness workshops could help you build a more profitable team and organization, click HERE.

More About Fuse - Igniting Communication:

Fuse is a licensed distributor/partner and practitioner of the globally renowned Insights Discovery brand of workshops.

Contact us to learn how to bring Insights to your organization, resulting in more collaboration, productivity, and revenue.

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