Selling a product is complicated. Take the seemingly simple act of buying a tube of toothpaste. I walk to the appropriate aisle and the decision process begins. What flavor? Do I want whitener in it? One big tube or two smaller ones? What kind of cap works best for my family? Buying a tube of toothpaste is not considered a major purchase in anyone’s book. However, on a personal level and for those who are stewards of company assets, major purchase decisions, like when choosing a trade show booth design, are a fact of life.
Prior to March 2020, the U.S. economy was growing and most businesses relied on incremental improvements of verified strategies to grow revenue and profits. Many of these strategies included building strong relationships during the sales process, whether purchasing supplies/services from a vendor or selling your products/services to a customer.
Now the rules of engagement with these important communities are a part of the unknown chaos that surrounds market activity. The uncertainty has shaken our moorings, but in times like these relationships should be an even more reliable anchor.
As we prepare to re-enter a post-pandemic business world, the pillars below are reminders of what a solid business relationship offers and what emotions must be considered to build and maintain a strong connection with customers.
In the broadest sense, relationship selling is a sales approach that focuses on the interaction between a buyer and the sales person, rather than the price or the capabilities of a product. The sales person must first be seen as adding value to the process, not just looking for a positive close to a transaction. This starts with asking questions and listening to the answers to learn about a customer’s situation.
“Research suggests that we only remember 25% – 50% of what we hear – that means that we miss up to 75% of what the customer is saying.” (David Jacoby, Sales Readiness Group). Truly listening to what a customer has to say will help clarify their needs, and then a sales person is better informed about what product would offer the most benefit.
Listening is also critical to resolving objections. Objections are intimidating, but handled and solved proactively, they can allow a sales person to be the hero for finding a win-win solution.
For a business relationship to deepen and continue to work in the future, a sales person must continue to look for ways to add value as circumstances evolve for the customer. To do so, there needs to be an insightful and appreciated understanding of the emotions underlying a purchase decision. Consider the role of the following three powerful emotions.
Joy is an addictive emotion. When we experience happiness, we look for ways to recreate that great feeling again. Making the first encounter a happy, pleasant experience sets the tone for future interactions. Telling your brand story in a way that makes customers and prospects see a more joyful world for themselves and for their business in the future keeps them coming back.
By being transparent, sincere and authentic, you build trust in your brand and keep customers engaged as they recognize that you have their best interest in mind. Brands have personalities. Make sure yours is relatable and trustworthy in all presentations of the brand to the market, but especially in a face-to-face environment where verbal and non-verbal communications plays a significant role.
There are a number of actions you can take that build trust in a business environment, including:
- Demonstrate your trust in others. When someone makes a mistake, be forgiving instead of immediately assuming ill intent. Give them the benefit of the doubt until you have concrete evidence of the contrary. You will feel better about them, and they will learn to trust your generosity.
- Directly address issues or potential issues. Dealing with concerns and problems in a timely, proactive and direct manner creates an experience that builds trust.
- Deliver the unexpected. One of the best ways to deliver trust is to delight clients and customers. Giving them what they asked for and then delivering even more in service, time or convenience builds trust and enhances joy at the same time.
As humans, we want to be connected and avoid loneliness. Does your relationship with customers only count when it is time to make another sale? Well-tended relationships need consistent nourishing and offer a sense of community where customers feel welcomed and valued throughout the sales cycle. They become a part of your on-going brand story and come to expect and enjoy their association with a thriving enterprise.
Despite the devastation to the exhibition world during the COVID-19 crisis, face-to-face marketing will return and companies again will engage customers to find the right solution to address business and personal needs. Focusing on emotions and activities that solidify relationships are more important than ever.
At Exhibitus, we are proud of the relationships we have with our customers who are now members of the Exhibitus family. Whether planning a live or virtual event, contact us. We are ready to welcome you to the fold and create an environment for you that joyfully promotes your brand and creates a sense of belonging for all who enter.