Relationship Selling vs. Traditional Methods: Definition and Purpose

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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Promoting is an important method of communicating the benefits of a product or service. The traditional way of selling does not take into account developing a long-term relationship with customers and is more concerned with just making a sale. The proper way of selling in a marketing environment is relationship selling. This is concerned with solving customer product needs and delivering long-term customer service.

Basics of Relationship and Traditional Selling

Does the image of a salesperson conjure up a man with an abrasive personality and a horrible polyester leisure suit? Perhaps the salesperson is aggressive and unrelenting in his mission to sell you a car, house, new suit, or vacation timeshare. The old days of using a poorly trained, aggressive sales force and traditional sales techniques are over! Today, smart companies realize that the key to long-term sales results and happy customers is using relationship selling. Relationship or consultative sales is a sales technique that focuses on building, maintaining, and enhancing interactions in order to develop long-term customer satisfaction.

Key Differences of Relationship and Traditional Selling

To further examine the innate differences between traditional and relationship selling, let's look at a classic sales situation of a car purchase. Julia is a salesperson for Nova Car Company. Her job is to sell at least twenty new cars a month in order to make a bonus. She has been in the industry for over fifteen years and started out using the traditional sales methods. She has also gone through intense corporate training and now has adopted the new relationship selling methods.

Key Difference #1: Consulting

Julia used to have to focus on just selling products and services. Her main goal was to move as many cars as possible each month using traditional selling methods. Now, she has to concentrate on not just selling a vehicle but also on providing advice, assistance, and counsel. Julia likes to set up her new customers' Bluetooth phone connection and offer routine repair advice. She also offers in-depth financial assistance to make sure she's providing the best deal for her customers. Most of her clients comment positively on her acting as a consultant to make the car-buying process very easy.

Key Difference #2: Consumer Interest

The second main difference in selling technique concerns getting the final sale. In traditional sales techniques, Julia was told to just focus on closing the sale. Her managers focused on getting the sale no matter what the consequence to the consumer. The new relationship selling style allows Julia the freedom to act in the consumer's best interest. She is to focus on improving her customer's bottom line and making the entire car purchase experience a satisfying one. She works hard now at making sure that the consumer is aware of the best car and deal for their budget. She even recommends using local banks if her own financial team can't provide the best loan deals.

Key Difference #3: Planning

The third difference revolves around sales planning. In the traditional model, Julia would not have given much thought or any time to sales planning. In the new relationship selling model, Julia invests a large amount of time in preparing her sales plan. Julia is driven to provide a prepared sales plan for overall forecasted sales for monthly car sales and also has established a lot of talking points about the benefits of each of her cars.

Key Difference #4: Problem Solving

In the traditional sales model, Julia would have spent most of her sales time telling her customers about the product. She would have just downloaded facts, statistics, or information directly to the customer. Julia now spends most of her time investing in problem-solving for her customer. She asks probing questions about their automobile situation and tries to suggest the best car to fix their issue. For example, Julia spent the time probing her last customer and found out that they were looking for a car with low gas mileage, seating for six, and an affordable price tag. She was able to take this information and suggest a used minivan with low miles and a smaller engine that would support lower gas mileage.

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