Nigel Cullington
Nigel Cullington 18 September 2019

Why “People Buy from People” Is Still True in the Digital Age

In the digital age, keeping in balance both the human and automated elements of sales management is still crucial to the enterprise. The sales process increasingly will be structured through technology, and yet managers must not forget the human element, the trust and connections between seller and customer a defining factor in company success.

Sales teams, more than any other profession, are fully aware that successful communication with leads and prospects is paramount. Whether it be by email, a phone call, or in person, it’s important to maintain “the human touch”. 

The human touch enables a true relationship and trust to be developed between the two parties and can go a long way in sales since there is an opportunity to establish a connection at all stages of the sales cycle.

Among various buzzwords, ‘relationship selling’ is a common term that salespeople are usually hit with. As simple as it may sound, this term brings its own confusions. Is relationship selling part of a process? Does it refer to customers or to everyone in sales? Does it apply to teams or just to individual sales people? Is it transactional?

In the simplest terms, selling by building relationships with customers/prospects is about understanding what matters to your customer and communicating the value you can bring. It is about adding a human element to the conversations and proving that you know your customers’ needs, know the best way to engage with them, know what you can deliver that can address their needs and solve their business problems. Doing this in a way that conveys this to them, their value and importance to your organization is the art of building relationships and making the relationship work for both companies. 

Relationship-oriented sellers prioritize their connection with the customer over all other aspects of the sale. They develop trust - by adding value and spending a lot of time with prospects - before and after attempting to close a deal. 

Today, sales teams are facing a growing need for trust as sellers struggle to humanise their sales processes in a world where sales are increasingly being led by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.  To save themselves from the tyranny of AI and ML, adding the human touch to meetings and sales-related discussions can prove to be the secret ingredient to a fruitful sales conversation. 

Data shows that customers don’t trust companies. According to the Customer Revenue Optimization Benchmark study, only 36% of customers trust the advice of employees in the company, and 59% trust that of peers in other companies. 27% of respondents believe that the area most critical for investment in 2019 is people, which is 4% over the need for the need for investing in technology.

Also, AI and Robotics offer an uptick in efficiency but cut out the relationship (trust) building of human interaction. 45% of survey respondents named Advancement in AI as a major disruptor in the business landscape. The bottom line here is that people are the real influencers.

The real problem happens when a business model may be more automated than humanised or vice versa. By delivering insight, knowledge and value, based on customer’s unique goals, salespeople can fully benefit from the relationships they have built and the trust they have earned while dealing with a customer/prospect.  

This is possible when sales teams are guided with strategy, methodology and technology that provides a framework to help sellers uncover how to solve their customer’s business problems so that they can deliver maximum impact for their customers. That’s the underlying foundation on which sustainable business relationships are built – and there is no success in business without relationships. There is no success in sales without impactful connections between the right people in the seller’s organization and the right people at the customer – and that’s not something that can be outsourced to technology.

So, moving away from the legacy approach of pushing their own agenda, salespeople should move to a revenue optimized approach where ‘what does our customer need’ and how we can help them, is the value that every human conversation can add to a sales discussion. 

This takes a shift in behaviour that requires a strategy to align with the customer, methodology to guide selling, and technology to connect everyone on the Revenue Team and create a heightened value for the customer, making it a long-lasting, value-based relationship between the entire revenue team and the customer.

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