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Four Simple Steps of Relationship-Based Selling

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

The best way to make sales is to keep the process very simple. In recent years, Internet marketers present the newest, hottest ways to market as if they just “cracked the code” to creating millions. The bells and whistles sound cool, but don’t let them distract you from what really works. Even with the latest software and tech innovations, relationship-based marketing still stands as the best way to make sales, and it’s based on the same “Tried and True” method that has worked (and still works) for decades: Meet, Follow-up, Stay in Touch, Repeat.

So let’s look at how relationship based marketing works:


It’s easier than ever to meet potential prospects on the Internet or locally—no matter where you live. The list is endless—social media is one of the most popular ways to find new prospects online and there are many more web-based venues; if you prefer shaking hands and rubbing elbows, then find local “Meetup” groups, attend networking events, Rotary Clubs, fundraisers, or church picnics, in order to meet and connect with people.

Here’s the trick (if there is one). When you meet, your goal is NOT to hit each person with your pitch or “opportunity”. The purpose of meeting is to make a connection that you can build on—a common interest, goal, problem, or viewpoint, that’s worth exploring. And that’s it! You may not talk about business at all. Seriously!

You can take it further by asking what your new acquaintance does, but just listen and ask questions. Meeting is part of the sorting process, not a place to “make the sale”. If they ask you what you do, then go ahead and share, but only after you’re asked. Meeting is simply a “collecting” process.

On the Internet, you “meet” by attracting people to informative content, such as blogs, articles, or videos, so your prospects can choose to connect with you. Forums are a great way to target people with common interests, or needs, that fit your customer profile. Sites like Facebook and Twitter make it easier than ever to make contacts.

At events, pretend it’s your party and that you’re the host. Keep it simple and say, “Hi, I don’t think we’ve met.” If it seems that there’s enough common ground for the conversation to continue, then invite your contact to exchange emails or business cards. Next, follow-up.


Follow-up can be a stumbling block for many people, but if you made a genuine connection upon meeting, it’s simply a way to re-connect and find out more ways to expand your common ground, which could be business-related.

Here’s why most people don’t like follow-ups: Their initial contact was too brief or too “pushy” so they feel afraid that their prospect will reject their renewed approach. Rejection is no fun. That’s why it’s way better to meet and connect first, either in person or online.

If you sort your contacts as you meet them, then you can be assured that you’ll have something to talk about. It may not produce a sale immediately, but that’s okay. You’re headed in the right direction, so just stay in touch and keep the relationship growing.


Follow-up is not a one time event. The Internet provides a wonderful set of tools for automating “staying in touch” by way of opt in pages (one-page websites that collect the names and emails of prospects) that are linked to an auto-responder. All successful online businesses stay in touch using this method, but don’t expect the system to do the selling for you. You must understand how the principles of Meet, Follow Up, and Stay in Touch build relationships, and then use them to create an automated sales funnel.

There’s much more to say about this four-step process and how to apply it. With online marketing, terms like “conversion rates”, “ROI” and “CTR” take on an urgency that can cause you to lose focus on what really matters. It’s easy to get caught up in the technical aspects of online marketing at the expense of really understanding how relationship-driven marketing works and why.


1. Meet: It all starts with meeting potential customers who might need your products or services, and connecting with them in a genuine way. (Relationship/sorting process.)

2. Follow-up: Your goal must be to solve real-life problems for your customers and help them to recognize where they need help. (Find common ground/Deepen relationship)

3. Stay in Touch: Revisit your customers to find out what they really need. Then help them purchase the solution that best solves their problem. If it’s not a fit, make a helpful offer and let it go.

4. Repeat steps 1, 2, & 3.

Keep it simple, keep it real, and keep repeating what works.

Cover image and top image from Shutterstock.

This is a cross-post from Ezine Articles.

Betsy L Shulman is a business coach and communication specialist who helps business owners increase their sales and simplify their marketing with a four-step approach called the Value Cycle. She believes that a targeted marketing strategy is the best way to ensure that your business provides genuinely valuable solutions for the clients who need your products and services.

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The best way to make sales is to keep the process very simple. In recent years, Internet marketers present the newest, hottest ways to market as if they just “cracked the code” to creating millions. The bells and whistles sound cool, but don’t let …