Relationships matter in business and sales – even online! Some people think that the internet is for selling. While we all want to sell our products or services we have to remember that there is one right way to do it – and a wrong way. I think some people believe there is a difference because you aren’t physically in front of people. We’re going to explore that.
A great rule of thumb to use in sales is that the relationship comes first. If you adopt this idea you will approach the process from the right direction every time. The question becomes how to build those relationships online.
For starters think about what you want in a client. When you have an idea of what a good client looks like, ask yourself how you’ve obtained the good clients you already have. Most likely you built the relationship with them, or the referral partner, first. Go with that policy!
When it comes to online prospecting consider these steps:
- Identify prospective targets
- Find out where they are online
- Start building a relationship
Notice that I didn’t say anything about selling them. That’s because you can’t! Just like in person sales, you need to get to know them and their issues before you can propose a solution. The internet is not your license to email prospects with your pitch. Frankly, that will do more damage than good.
You wouldn’t call a prospect and start pitching your product or services, would you? No, of course not! If you called someone it would be to find out about them; to identify what issues they are having that you can help them with. Consider internet contacts in the same way.
The great thing about the internet is that it can give you a window into a prospective client. You can learn a lot about someone or a company by researching them online. Once you’ve identified them and found out where they are online, reach out to connect and get to know them. Offer them valuable information. Connect them to other resources. Get to know them so you can craft a solution specific to their needs. And if you discover that you can’t help them, let them know. You can still continue to build the relationship. They may end up needing you down the road, or they may refer you to someone who does need you.
When you focus on building the relationships instead of on selling something you will find greater success. More people will welcome you into their circle and your good reputation will precede you.