Sales Success Starts with Building Relationships; Here’s How to do it Right.

For many people sales is a scary prospect. I know it was for me. 

For the purpose of this post let’s create a fictional character to guide us through. His name is Bill.

Bill knows what he wants to do with his business. He sets clear goals and targets and makes sure he has the right skillset to offer his service. He sets everything up in the legal sense and is, for all intents and purposes, ready to go. 

Then comes the hard part. Getting the clients or customers. 

Bill doesn’t know where to begin. He goes to a marketing company who create some wonderful assets for him. They’re not cheap, but the brochures, flyers and vibrant new website speak for themselves…don’t they? 

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It’s all well and good Bill having these resources available to create brand awareness. But now he needs the sale. 

This is where Bill begins to struggle. He doesn’t see himself as a salesperson. He doesn’t know where to begin. 

I was Bill once (although my name is not really Bill). 

I took on a franchise. I had everything I could possibly need to make my business a success…except clients. 

I kept thinking, but I’m not a salesperson. I didn’t go into this business to sell. My business was about supporting and helping people.  I’m not selling anything. 

Of course, I was a salesperson. Every business is selling something. It doesn’t matter how many people you will help, support, nurture, mentor, coach, or tutor. If you would like money in return for the service you provide, you are selling just as a soft drinks company sells their drinks. 

I found the idea of delivering a sales pitch terrifying. I didn’t want the person I was sitting in front of to dislike me because I was being a pushy salesperson. No-one likes being sold to. At the same time, I was worried that if I didn’t push, I wouldn’t make any sales and then my business would fail. But I didn’t have the gift of the gab. I wasn’t born a natural salesperson

It was a catch 22. 

Does any of this resonate with you?


Here are some facts you need to know about sales:

  1. People buy from people.
  2. People buy from people they know, like and trust.
  3. Your customers/clients have a need. 
  4. You can provide a solution to that need.
  5. Sales happen by building relationships.
  6. Sales is a structured process – there is no gift of the gab!

If our character Bill takes these facts on board as he begins to develop his sales pitches, he will go on to do well. Let’s explore each of these in a little more detail.


  1. People Buy from People

Marketing materials are amazing when they are created well. They need to have an eye-catching design, clever content and be memorable for them to have impact. However, a client will rarely pick up the phone and place an order for your service purely based on the flyer that you left at their front desk. 


There have been several surveys and studies conducted into online buying habits. These studies show that even though online purchases are on the increase (so it is very important to have an online presence where people can research your company), it is more likely that people will want to interact with an actual human being before making a purchase. 

This is because humans understand each other. The client will have lots of questions that they will need answered to a satisfactory level before they will invest with you. Making a purchase is an emotional decision. 

Which brings us to point number 2.


  1. People Buy from People They Know, Like and Trust


Points 2, 5 and 6 are all interlinked. Making a sale will not happen overnight. Or at least, making a big sale won’t. Your customers will want to feel reassured that you are not going to steal their money, scam them, or not deliver on what you have said you will deliver. 

This is especially true when there is a large amount of money involved. 

Bill’s business is new. How can he make sure people know him? It comes down to brand awareness. 

This is where Bill’s marketing materials and online marketing forums come into fruition. The more visible his company is, the better known he will be. 

The aim is to get other companies to talk about you and your products or services on their own social media platforms and websites. 

How do you do this? Comment on their posts, mention them in your blogs and repost their posts. 

This will help you to get noticed. 

Don’t just make random comments. Make sure that all your posts, articles and blogs are positive, where possible. If your company radiates positivity, then people will like you. People like it when their work is praised in an encouraging way. If you comment on the posts of others online, with an optimistic outlook, they will return the favour. 

Finally, use testimonials and recommendations. People buy from those they trust, and what says ‘trust’ better than the word of someone else who has already purchased from you or worked with you?

A testimonial must be from a real person, and you should state their name and occupation to add authenticity. 

The more you can back up your sales pitch with the true to life testimony of others, the more a person is likely to take you seriously and purchase from you. 

  1. Your Customers Have a Need

Your customers aren’t meeting with you for the good of their health (unless you’re a medical company). They have a problem which they need a solution to. They are hoping that you are going to bring that solution. 

However, before Bill can become the knight in shining armour for the client, he must discover what the need is

He will do this by completing a needs analysis. There are lots of different ways of conducting a needs analysis. 

One way may be to send out a survey or questionnaire to prospective customers asking specific questions. This can be an effective way of information gathering. Although Bill cannot guarantee that all his prospective customers will fill out the survey. Also, he could find that even if they have filled it out, he has more questions based on their answers, but he cannot delve further at this point because the survey was automated. 

Remember people buy from people and this is an impersonal way of gathering data. 

Another way of gathering information for a needs analysis would be to research the customer using their website and social media platforms. This could lead Bill to find out some very useful facts which he could then use to support his sales presentation later. Problems with this are it is time consuming for Bill and the information he finds online may not be the most up to date and relevant data. 

The best way to conduct a needs analysis by far, would be to hold a discussion with the prospective customer. This is not necessarily a sales meeting (although it could turn into one). This is a two-way conversation where Bill can ask lots of questions to delve into the way the customer runs their business (if this is B2B sales) and where the pain points are. 

The key here is to listen. In one of these meetings the aim is to get the prospective client talking for at least 60% of the time. 

If Bill is doing the majority of the talking, the meeting is not going well. 

Questions which you would need to know the answer to during the needs analysis (apart from the obvious service/product specific information) would be:

  • Are they using your competitors for any or all of their current needs?
  • Are they happy with the service they are being provided by the competitor? (If not, why not? Then you can do better).
  • What is the budget that they have available to work within?
  • When would they need this service to begin and for how long?

It is important to note that if you ever discuss a competitor with a client or prospective client, make sure you remain positive and do not say anything derogatory about the competition. The client will not look favourably upon you for doing so. 


  1. You Can Provide a Solution for that Need.


There is no need to feel pressured into making any sales pitches during the needs analysis meeting. Remember, you want the customer to know you, like you and trust you. 

Therefore, it is a good idea to go away with the information they have divulged and create the perfect sales pitch or proposal, which is unique, just for them, providing the perfect solution for their individual pain points. 

Because selling is about building relationships.

  1. Sales Happen When You Build Relationships

I think this point has become clearer throughout our discussion. People buy from people, so Bill needs to get out there and meet people. He needs to make sure that he is communicating in a positive way so that the people he meets like him. 

When Bill has completed a successful service for someone and delivered above and beyond what he advertised he would, then clients will be happy to provide recommendations and testimonials. These clients may very well become repeat customers and may make even larger investments in future business dealings with Bill. Meanwhile, new prospects are already starting to trust Bill and his brand and therefore they are listening a little more actively when he pitches to them. 

When Bill held the needs analysis chat, the customer felt listened to. Even more so when they realised that not only had Bill listened, but he provided the exact thing they needed to help them move forward in their business or life.  Consequently, when Bill presented them with his proposal they already knew it was an offer they couldn’t refuse. 

But the relationship doesn’t end there. Bill should follow up regularly with his customers to make sure they are happy with the service with which they are being provided. He should conduct regular informal needs analysis conversations in order to find other possible pain points for which he could provide the solution – thus further deepening the relationship between himself and the customer. 

  1. Sales is a Structured Process – There is No Gift of the Gab!

So far, we have covered the fact that we are communicating with, listening to, and building relationships with people. The exciting truth is, there is no such thing as a natural born salesperson. Successful salespeople are the people who are open, listen to their clients and strive to meet their clients needs, before, during and (most importantly) after the sale. 

The successful salesperson will follow the following structured process, in this order:

  1. Personal preparation
  • Look the part – be professional in appearance.
  • Have the right materials ready – do you need a presentation? Do you have a brochure?
  • Do your research before the meeting – know the name of the person you will be meeting, know the basic facts about their company.
  •  Be in the right mindset for the meeting – leave your personal life at home.
  1. Attention
  • Pay attention to the conversation. 
  • Listen to the prospective customer. 
  • Ask relevant questions. 
  • You also want to get their attention – Wow them with your knowledge.
  • Be memorable - make an impression. 
  1. Needs
  • Conduct a needs analysis BEFORE you attempt to sell anything.
  1. Define your offer
  • Make sure what you are offering is a solution to the problem. 
  • Make it clear and understandable.
  • Cover all customer objections in the offer – make it an offer they can’t refuse.
  1. Action
  • What action do you need to take to make the sale go through? – take it. 
  • What action (if any) is expected from the customer? 
  • Make sure they understand what is expected from them – guide them through it.

I hope these tips have helped you overcome some of the fear that comes with sales. The truth is that once the relationships have been built, the sale is the natural next step. No need to be pushy or salesy. Because that doesn’t work. 

Just ask Bill. 

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