JLL Senior Managing Director Steve Steinmeyer talks about the power of relationship selling and how you can start building relationships that help you sell more. Keep reading to find out more.
In this article:
- The Importance of Relationship Selling
- How to Establish and Solidify Your Relationships
- How to Develop Trust in Relationship Selling
- How You Can Use Relationship Selling in Your Pitch Selling
- How to Scale Relationship Selling Models
- Key Takeaways
How to Implement Relationship Selling
Steve Steinmeyer is currently a Senior Managing Director at JLL where he oversees tenant representatives on a global landscape. He’s been with the company for nearly 24 years and part of his job as well is to represent office tenants.
He leads a team in Downtown Chicago and they also have plans that have portfolios of property around the country and around the world. Due to the nature of his job, Steinmeyer gets to meet all kinds of people.
This allows him to enjoy his entrepreneurial and dynamic daily environment.
The Importance of Relationship Selling
For most of his career, Steinmeyer has employed tactics of relationship selling. It’s become his way of selling, and he is comfortable with it, he said.
Relationship selling is a foundation point for any type of selling or even anything, for that matter. It has to be authentic for you, it has to work for you, and it has to feel and sound natural, not forced.
Steinmeyer shared that he approaches the relationship selling process as he would any other relationship. He observed that people buy from people they trust and like.
If you don’t have a relationship with someone, they’re not going to trust you. They’re not even going to know whether they like you or not unless you have a relationship with them.
Assuming that people generally like you, you still have to get to the point where you develop trust. Otherwise, you’re simply employing procurement exercises.
Steinmeyer shared that part of their job is procurement. They get art pieces from large corporations that are procurement-driven.
He said that the odds of winning something like that without a relationship isn’t very good. Chances are, at least one of the teams they’re competing with has an established relationship with the corporation.
Having a relationship trumps a lot of factors. That’s why from a success standpoint, Steinmeyer believes it’s important.
On the other hand, he also finds building relationships fun. For Steinmeyer, it’s more enjoyable to work with people he has a relationship with and he can speak frankly to.
How to Establish and Solidify Your Relationships
For some people, relationship-building comes naturally. Yet what about for others who don’t have an inherent knack for it?
We asked Steinmeyer which key principle he found to be effective in establishing relationships and taking them to the next level. According to him, it starts out with working hard.
When you’re assigned to accomplish a task, no matter what it is, deliver excellence. When you consistently deliver excellence and build a good track record, people begin to recognize and respect that.
For Steinmeyer, there’s no better starting point for a good relationship.
The number one principle is that you’re always on. Keep in mind that everything you do matters — there is no throwaway task.
This doesn’t mean you have to over-deliver all the time. You only need to do your job well.
If you’re not aiming for a good track record, you’ll have a hard time taking your relationships to the next level and solidifying them.
How to Develop Trust in Relationship Selling
Trust is an important aspect of relationship selling. How do you then start to establish it?
As Steinmeyer said, you can’t force people to give you their trust. For people to trust you, there has to be some shared experience.
Your prospects and clients need to know how you operate and see the results from that so they can get a sense of who you are.
That also helps reputation-wise. Experience and association with an organization that has a good reputation can help you, and they give you a foundation to build on.
Even then, however, you still have to do something to earn people’s trust. The length of time it takes for you to gain this can take weeks, months, or even years.
You can develop trust quickly, but it won’t happen if you force it.
That is why Steinmeyer says that there isn’t “any magic to it” other than hard work. He advised to not take shortcuts on the process either.
Gaining trust is like building a house, he said. Trust is like the foundation of the house, and if you take a shortcut early on, you’ll regret it.
It’s going to have an impact on the whole relationship. Instead of solidifying trust, you’ll be working to re-establish it.
How You Can Use Relationship Selling in Your Pitch Selling
Pitch selling is still a must, Steinmeyer asserted. It’s part of the sales job and environment, and it’s how some things run.
Yet if there is some level of relationship built around pitch selling, you’re going to be more credible going in.
If the first part of your pitch is establishing your credibility, you’re already behind without a relationship. You can say that everyone is starting from the same place.
Most likely, this isn’t so. Among the group of people pitching, at least one of them has a relationship established with those hosting the pitch.
Without that relationship, you really will be a little behind your competitors.
There are times when you go into the pitch knowing it’s a long shot. Yet you still participate because it’s your first step to establish credibility and you’re doing it for the long run.
It may seem like a long sales cycle. Yet in sales, particularly if you’re commission-based, there are two things you need to do: farm and hunt.
It’s very easy to put off farming because it doesn’t yield right away. For the most part, this isn’t like farming annual crops — it’s more like a tree farm where what you’re planting takes years before it pays off.
If you farm early on in your career and you consistently do it, you’re building relationships for yourself. You might not know yet how they can benefit you, but they will someday.
How to Scale Relationship Selling Models
One of the criticisms thrown at relationship selling is that it’s hard to scale and it takes a long time to do so. Steinmeyer assured, however, that there are a lot of different ways to scale.
With Steinmeyer’s company JLL, they scale based on the size of the deal or the size of the portfolio. You can scale by being able to win larger assignments.
Some of that happens early on in your career. When you’re only starting out, the people whom you know and have the best relationships with are often not in decision-making roles.
Yet as you progress in your career, say in three to five years, some of them start to assume decision-making roles. They can be decision-makers for both small and large opportunities.
Having that relationship with them can bring you opportunities, both small and large.
In terms of scaling, Steinmeyer advised building a team. It’s better if your team members have similar ethos and approach as yours, but it’s also good to team up with those who complement you.
You can also build a team of specialists. This gives you a diversity of appeal and a diversity of understanding.
You’re not going to be everybody’s cup of tea. Yet having an array of experiences, perspectives, and personalities can also help enhance your team.
For Steinmeyer, building a well-constructed team is the best way to scale relationship selling.
Steinmeyer left two key takeaways from our discussion. The first one is for young people and those who are just getting started in their sales career: focus on farming, not on hunting.
As Steinmeyer said, it’s very easy to focus on hunting, but farming is going to pay off.
For every month or year you don’t start farming, you only put yourself behind more. You need to start early and discipline yourself to become consistent with it.
Steinmeyer encourages to develop a certain amount of discipline. It doesn’t have to be rigid or military-type.
You only need the discipline to farm early in your career and be consistent in doing so.
The second is for those who are well into their sales career and trying to figure out how to scale relationship selling: build a good team.
Make sure they’re people you like and get along with, but aren’t your clones. You also need diversity and compatibility within your team, as these will serve you well.
The importance of relationship selling lies in the fact that it’s a foundation point for any type of selling. It gives you an edge and enhances your sales skills.
As Steinmeyer put it, farming for beneficial relationships and building a well-constructed team will help you succeed in relationship selling.
How are you utilizing relationship selling in your business? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.