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Relationships: Your Best Competitive Weapon


competetive edgeThanks to technology and globalization, competition is stiffer than ever in today’s crowded marketplace. So how do you ensure that buyers choose you?

It’s not technology. Your competitors have access to the same data, social-selling tools, and marketing applications that you do. They’ve probably read the same sales blogs and articles, and they know how to use LinkedIn.

Your customers already think all vendors are the same, because everyone has the same message and makes the same promises. You have a choice. You can look like every other company, or you can set yourself apart from the rest by ditching your sales pitch and focusing on relationships.

Become a Valuable Resource

Between 57 and 87 percent of the buying process is complete before a buyer ever contacts a company—at least that’s the case if you believe the widely quoted but ill-advised statistics floating around sales circles. The truth is that our prospects still need us just as much as they did before. But their needs have changed.

Today’s buyers are very good at homework. They don’t need us to give them demos or canned sales pitches, because they get all that information online. What they do need is our expertise, industry experience, and insights about what does and doesn’t work. They need us to become trusted advisors—to ask insightful questions, help them understand what’s causing their business challenges, and offer solutions they haven’t already considered.

Waiting for buyers to finish up their homework and come to you is not smart salesmanship. By this point, you're already in a competitive situation, and your odds of closing a deal have diminished at least five-fold. The trick is getting in front of your buyers before they even know they need you, to help them identify the pain points they didn’t know were hurting, and to gain their trust by offering solutions.

Referrals Seal the Deal

So how do you get in the door first? With referral introductions from people your buyers know and trust, you walk straight into meetings with your ideal prospects. You don’t have to worry about getting past the gatekeepers or heading off the competition, because you have the best possible competitive advantage—a relationship.

Because you've been referred, you arrive with credibility and trust already built. Your buyer will share important information with you—including how decisions are made, who is on board and who to watch out for, and what you need to do to seal the deal. In other words, you’ll have the inside track.

When you prospect through referrals, you set the standard by which others must compete, which means your competitors don’t stand a chance.

About the Author
Joanne Black is America’s top referral sales expert. With decades of experience across multiple industries and companies of all sizes, Joanne Black’s simple message about using referral selling as the primary driver of sales is one that resonates with sales and marketing audiences around the globe. Visit for more articles, tips, and free resources. You can also find Joanne on Twitter @ReferralSales.

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