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When someone mentions networking to form client relationships while selling products and services, do you automatically pull out the laptop and visit one of the related business social networking sites or industry news websites? Yes, online branding and selling has become commonplace in marketing and promotion strategies to build a customer base. Yet small business owners need to remember that such online tools should complement their existing marketing tactics while still using tried-and-true techniques such as selling face-to-face to build relationships.

Face-to-face selling still desired by customers

Let’s understand the facts. When you are communicating with someone online, you lose the personable values of a business relationship. You make the initial sale, but then what? You lose out on building a repertoire with the customer that can allow you to further promote additional products and services. You can’t delve deeper into what else the client may need or desire.

You also lose out on building the trust factor that will make the customer loyal to your company. You are seen as just another faceless business entity in a sea of businesses jockeying for the person’s attention. The next time you come to sell your business to that customer, you again start from scratch instead of having the established relationship that would instantly make the person want to work with your company again.

Another advantage with face-to-face selling is that you can become more responsive to the customer to guide them into saying yes to your products and services. By watching their body movements, listening to their conversation, and noticing their emotions, you can take note of how your selling tactics are affecting them and instantly adjust your strategies. You tailor each selling method to that particular customer based on the verbal, physical and emotional cues that they show.

Three tips to building relationships with selling face-to-face

Every customer is different, and will require a different sales tactic that will appeal to them. While creating several scripts and scenarios can prepare you for different outcomes, using the following tips can also help to build and strengthen your business relationships to create lifelong customers.

  1. Be professional at all times. It is easy to let your guard down when you really connect with a customer as you may tell an off-colour joke or share personal information with them. Yet this route can take a turn for the worse as you may not get the desired reaction that you were looking for as the customer can lose respect for your business. So keep a professional attitude when doing face-to-face selling.
  2. Stop focusing strictly on your business. It is easy to get into the rut of just talking strictly about what your company is and what it does and what your future objectives are for the business. Yet take a step back and think about what the customer is hearing. While letting them know what products and services you offer is great, they will not understand how you can help them with their needs. Instead let the customer know how you can help them, how your services can improve their operations, or what your products will do to give them an advantage.
  3. Listen and be empathetic to your customer. You should be having a meaningful conversation with the customer, not a one-sided monologue and then asking them if they have any questions. Listening to what the customer says can help you reveal other needs that they may have that you can help them with by offering additional products and services. Be empathetic to their problems, then strive to meet their needs as this builds trust.

Face-to-face selling does not always come easy to every business owner. Yet by working on your strengths, you can begin generating leads and speaking with prospects that will turn into sales. And these new customers will trust your business to help them again and again in the future.

Marc O'Dwyer

After completing a Graduate program in Marketing, Marc’s impressive sales career began at Allied Irish Banks, Pitney Bowes and Panasonic where he received numerous Irish and European sales performance awards and consistently exceeded targets and expectations. In 1992, Marc’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to set up his own business, Irish International Sales (IIS). Initially, this company was a reseller for Take 5 Accounts and Payroll software. Within four years, IIS became the largest reseller of Take 5 in Ireland, acquiring four other Take 5 resellers. He also found time to set up two mobile phone shops under the Cellular World brand and a web design company offering website design services for small businesses. In 2001, he bought the majority share in a small Irish software business, Big Red Book. At that time, the company was losing money. The company became profitable within two months, and Marc then acquired a payroll company to compliment Big Red Books Accounting products. In 2003, IIS were appointed as Channel Partners with SAP for their new SME product, SAP Business One. Marc sold his Take 5 business and concentrated on developing this new market for SAP As a result, by 2007, IIS was recognised as the largest Channel Partner for SAP in EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa). In 2008, the IIS Sales Manager bought the Company from Marc in an MBO. He launched Big red cloud in June 2012, the online version of big red book, to date the company successfully converts 59% of trials into sales and the number of customers is growing rapidly. Marc continues to run both Big Red Book and Big Red Cloud which now support 75,000 businesses. He is a very keen sportsman, having played rugby for 20 years, represented Leinster at under 16 and under 20 levels, and league squash with Fitzwilliam Lawn Tennis Club for 10 years. Marc has competed in 11 Marathons, including the London and Boston Marathons, and has completed several Triathlons and Half Ironman races. He has also completed six Ironman Races in Austria(x2), Frankfurt (Germany), Nice (France) , Mallorca (Spain) and Copenhagen (Denmark)

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