When it comes to creating a positive shopping experience for your customers, you likely prioritize things like making sure in-season products are in stock, your store is always clean and tidy, and items are displayed in an organized manner.
However, research suggests that today's consumers care just as much about the feelings, human interactions, and connections you make with them as they do about the products you're selling—maybe even more.
Oberlo reported that 73% of consumers cite customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions and 88% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support.
This technique of focusing more on building a genuine customer relationship and less on closing a sale is known as relationship selling, or relationship-based sales. It's a proven way to earn repeat customers, build brand loyalty, and increase customer lifetime value.
If you're new to the relationship selling process, this article will explain what it is, why it works, and how a tool like Clientbook can help you easily implement it into your sales process.
Relationship selling vs. transactional selling
When it comes to selling in retail, there are two main techniques: transactional selling and relationship selling.
Transactional selling is what a customer usually experiences at your average grocery store, post office, or gift shop. A customer comes in, makes their selections, takes their items to a register, pays, and leaves. Transactional sales are simple exchanges of money for a product or service with no personalization or long-term relationships between the buyer and the brand.
Relationship sales, on the other hand, are quite the opposite experience. These sales interactions are what a client usually experiences with jewelers, fashion boutiques, high-end furniture stores, or other luxury brands with more expensive products. With these retailers, there's a buyer-seller relationship, where the client may work closely with a specific sales representative each time they come in.
Examples of relationship selling techniques
If you're looking to improve how your sales leaders train their team so that they focus more on building relationships with prospects, these relationship sales strategies will help get you started.
- Get to know your client: Successful salespeople know their client like the back of their hand—their name, birthday, product likes and dislikes, and their preferred method of communication. The more personal details your sales reps know about their clients, the stronger their bond will be.
- Talk less, listen more: Active listening skills are important for all human relationships, but especially when trying to build a long-lasting relationship with a client. A sales conversation should always involve more listening than talking so clients feel heard and understood.
- Be a product expert: Your team's relationship sales skills aren't just about knowing their client, but knowing the product, too. That way, when a client has questions or wants personal recommendations, your team can make suggestions that fit the client's needs.
- Take good notes: No single salesperson can be expected to remember everything about a client on their own. Taking notes helps everyone keep track of important client information, and ensures nothing is lost if a sales associate ends up leaving employment with you.
- Follow up often: Sales outreach is a big part of maintaining a strong relationship with clients. Following up often via text or email—bonus points if it's with a discount or personalized offer—is a great way to stay in touch with current customers so they come shop again soon.
Want more ways to improve your sales team's relationship selling process? Get seven tips in our article
Benefits of relationship selling
Now that we've covered the basics of a good relationship selling strategy, let's talk about the advantages of relationship-based sales over transactional sales.
Arguably the best advantage of relationship selling is that it earns you more business. Data from a PwC report found that U.S. consumers are willing to pay up to 16% more for a product or service if the business offers a great customer experience.
What's more, according to the Business Impact of Personalization study, shoppers will spend up to 40% more than they would have otherwise when they identify their shopping experience to be highly personalized.
Increases client loyalty
Next, a relationship-selling approach creates loyal customers who will come to your store over your competitors. And that loyalty inevitably translates to profits.
A Harvard Business Review study found that customers who trust a brand are 88% more likely to become a repeat customer. Plus, trusted companies outperform their peers by up to 400% in terms of total market value.
Elevates your brand
Finally, having a team with relationship selling skills elevates your brand. When every client who walks into your store has a personal connection with you and your team, the buying process suddenly becomes more than an errand to run or purchase to make. It's more like meeting up with a friend or getting pampered by a loved one.
When building trust is the ultimate goal—not just closing a deal on a high-ticket item—your clients will feel the difference. They can go into your store knowing there's a trusted sales professional who knows them and their preferences and they'll leave with something that's just right for them.
How clienteling software can help with relationship building
If your team has been using traditional selling techniques up to this point, it may seem daunting to implement more consultative selling practices like these—especially if you have a lot of clients to keep track of.
Luckily, clienteling software makes the process far simpler for businesses of all sizes to implement. Clienteling software, like Clientbook, transforms manual spreadsheets and Rolodexes into a simple mobile platform to house all of your client data in one place.
With features like client profiles, wish lists, and automated reminders, it handles all of the key elements of relationship selling so your team doesn't have to remember every detail about each of your clients. It's a win-win situation for both you and your client base.
Updating your team's sales technique to focus more on making a connection with customers can take time, but by following the tips in this article—and getting a little help from a clienteling software platform like Clientbook—you'll be well on your way to relationship selling like a pro.
If you're ready to see how Clientbook can help you and your team start making deeper connections with your clients, book a personalized demo today.