In my last blog post on my  15 Best Sales Tactics, series I promised to share how you can become a decision-makers #1 choice

This blog post shares the first of the 2 best ways I’ve found to maximize your relationships with decision-makers and make it most likely you become their #1 choice:  

I’m fascinated by the fact that when salespeople win a sale they often credit their win to having the best relationship but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a salesperson say they lost a sale because they didn’t have a strong enough relationship. They typically blame it on price or not a fit. 

It is commonly understood that most sales opportunities are lost because the risk of doing something new is greater than sticking with the status quo. 

As shown in the diagram below you are unlikely to make the sale when a decision-makers perception of the risk of being your customer is greater than their perception of your credibility.  

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So, in order for you to become the #1 choice for a decision-maker, they need to believe that your credibility is greater than their perception of the risk of doing business with you AND that you are their least risky option. 

As a sale progresses decision-makers start spending more and more time analyzing risk increase of buying from you and how that risk compares to sticking with the status quo. 

I’ve found attempting to shift a decision-makers perception of risk is extremely difficult. So instead I focus on finding ways to increase my credibility. 

3 Types of Credibility 

There are three types of credibility: 

  1. Expertise Credibility – How well you know a certain topic. This is the least effective form of credibility E.g. My expertise is timing – being first in with decision-makers who are thinking of changing so you can help decision-makers define the problem and design the solution while giving you time to develop the kind of relationships that maximize your close ratio 
     
  2. Leveraged Credibility – This is sometimes called the halo effect. This is the second-best form of credibility. When you use the name of a person or company who is held is high esteem your credibility increases. E.g. LinkedIn has named me #15 their list of top B2B sales experts on the planet (#1 in Canada) so I use that in my profile and my bios when I do the occasional free sales training sessions for startups and scaleups. 
     
  3. Relationship Credibility – The longer someone has known you as someone does what they say they will the more they understand they can count on you. This is the most powerful form of credibility. This is one reason why if someone has been a customer of yours once, he or she is more likely to become a customer again after moving on to a new company.

An Alumni Strategy

You can leverage these job changes by creating what I call an alumni strategy – following past customers as they move to a new job.

The alumni strategy doesn’t just work for company changes – it’s also effective they shift from one division to another or to a new geographical region. E.g. moving from North America to Europe.

The alumni strategy is great if you already have someone as a customer but what about prospects.

The first way is… 

Bumping

My bumping strategy is about bumping up my relationship credibility – because my customers and prospects know I’m looking out for them. 

A side benefit is that this also bumps the problem I solve – getting more reps to make quota – temporarily farther up a decision maker’s list of things to get done. 

I have a number of decision-makers that I have the kind of relationship with. It allows me to text them the message

Seen This?

Then I send a second message that shares a link what I’ve found that they should know of or might learn something from. 

The problem is you can’t always start this way. Often you need to start with finding out things you have in common to develop this relationship on a more personal level.

In my next blog post, we will discuss the best way to maximize your relationship credibility.  Stay tuned!