At a meeting with a number of sales leaders from industrial manufacturing companies talking about 3 key issues:
- longer sales cycles
- increased competition
- lower win rates
What’s Going On?
We talked about why this is happening. What they told me was that their regional sellers have invested a lot of time – we’re talking years – into building relationships with one or two buyers in the local plants and manufacturing facilities.
However, the sales world has changed. Many of the buying decisions that used to be made at the local plant are now centralized at corporate. And because they are centralized, the buying process is also now more formal. RFPs are being issued more consistently as commonplace.
Another factor is that many of the contacts at the local plants are reaching retirement age. So, the people that sellers have built strong relationships with are no longer around.
They’ve relied so much on relationship selling but those relationships are changing, and the resulting impact is struggling sales performance.
Build Value-Based Relationships
Now, is relationship selling a bad thing? No, not at all! People buy from people whom they like and trust. But what companies, specifically these organizations, needed to start doing was developing value-based relationships.
To build value-based relationships, you primarily do two things.
- Understand the account and the relationships you need to have. Understand the entire account, not just the local plant. Build an account plan that identifies the company’s strategic objectives and the key executives responsible for executing that strategy. These are the people that you need to build relationships with.
- Quantify the value that your organization’s products, services, and solutions have already brought to the customer. It’s proven – sellers who quantify the value of their solutions have greater success with gaining access to those executive-level contacts.