Lean on Customer Relationships During a Depleted Sales Pipeline

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Amid any potential dry selling period, sales professionals need to look inward and lean on strong customer relationships in order to survive. Bottom line is that there are many uncontrollable conditions that can affect a business overnight. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a data breach, a company controversy, or anything else that depletes the sales pipeline, sellers are only as good as the data they’ve put into their relationship management platform. While there’s no “secret formula” during such situations, customer relationships should be the focal point for sellers and serve as a strong foundation to meet and exceed goals.

Set the Foundation with Strong Customer Relationships

Developing a culture around personal relationships within your organization, and with your customers, will make interactions more meaningful. With productive and meaningful interactions, you will see a higher retention rate for both employees and customers, and it will aid in advancing account relationships by solving problems, creating value, and unlocking potential new revenue opportunities. And, particularly during this period of economic uncertainty, it can provide an ease of mind and financial security.

It’s important to recognize that we live in a world exploding with information, often of uncertain origin, and with the internet at their fingertips, potential customers often start into a buying process with conflicting information. To truly have a strong relationship built to survive such conditions, you must understand customers, both their core problems and the drivers behind their decision making. Managing relationships and using those relationships to establish positive influences are key parts of a sales strategy. Creating personal connections builds trust, informs decision-making, and creates a strong foundation for future work.

So how can this be achieved? Maximizing an interaction, and the time and effort that goes into a sale, requires impeccable people skills. The time spent should be on getting to know the individuals and team—their pain points, their goals, and their desired outcomes—and making a personal connection.

Accessing the Right People

Many will agree that personal relationships are great, but how do you fit establishing them into what is already a busy schedule? To fully maximize your time, you need to access the right people with which to build those relationships. When you access the right people in the buying process and deliver personalized value messages, your likelihood of sales success is dramatically higher.

Sales professionals need to be trained to learn to pay attention to how a company works, to use data to track relationships between the people within the company and to understand the politics of the organization. They need to be able to map the people and actively manage their relationship status across the entire account and team. When sales professionals can leverage data to demonstrate their unique value proposition with tailored messages to the key influencer, it can make the difference between winning the deal and losing it.

As such, during an unexpected disaster like the current pandemic, the data within a relationship management platform is key for knowing the last touchpoint and having full visibility on where each relationship stands. Relationship mapping technology can be a critical tool for companies as it helps to create value through the sales experience and make every connection between business buyers and sellers a win-win outcome, setting a new standard for how business is done.

A Continuous Process of Customer Engagement

Bottom line, every interaction has value—no matter who it’s with. Whether it’s a reaffirmation of an existing relationship or an expansion into new ground, every conversation with the customer is important. A truly great sales process is not one obsessed with closing deals but one which proactively seeks opportunities beyond the limits of an existing sales opportunity. Many forget that there is an actual human on the other side of the phone or email, and successful selling means adapting to the age of digital sales and proactively seeking better outcomes for the customer.

The key to elevating and expanding your relationships comes down to one key principle: your ability to create, measure, and communicate value to the customer and show them you have a complete understanding of their goals and pain points. It starts with a foundation of understanding your own organization and investing in your people, their workflows and training, to achieve revenue and company goals—no matter the economic climate.

Nigel Cullington is vice president of marketing at Upland Altify and helps to lead the customer revenue optimization  unit of the company. Cullington previously managed product marketing at Altify for more than three years up until the company was acquired by Upland Software in October 2019. He has more than 25 years of global experience across sales and marketing, as well as entrepreneurial business development experience across diverse industry sectors, including software, publishing, and internet companies.

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