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10 Tips To Build Strong Relationships: Less Hustle, More Soul



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In the past few years, we have seen the rise of “bro marketing,” funnels, squeeze pages, webinars, and the never-ending email auto sequences hoping to cash in on a faux sense of urgency and FOMO (fear of missing out).

Transaction-based selling has become “the way,” as entrepreneurs turn and churn. The focus being massive numbers of prospects in their contact lists, as they set their hopes on closing a small percentage of them to reach a revenue goal. 

The chaos of the pandemic has further elevated the side-hustle and need for multiple streams of income. In fact, it has created a heightened sense of urgency for many.

But I ask, in the rush to turn coin, are we missing out on the opportunity to provide meaningful transformation and more importantly build meaningful relationships that ultimately create a meaningful impact on our bottom line? In doing so, are we obtaining short-term gratification but losing the long game? Does a focus on transaction-based selling impact our organizational sustainability?

I believe, yes.

The Transactional Hustle

Traditionally, transaction-based selling was focused on low-cost short-term solutions where often the product or service is widely available and perceived as somewhat generic. In a transactional marketplace, the consumer is prioritizing price in their purchasing decision and the business is primarily concerned with the sale of the product and less so on the customer needs or outcomes after the transaction.

Currently, this approach is being applied to everything from starting a business, such as “becoming a coach with your own high-ticket offering,” to the everyday software or widget. 

Transformation is now oft-promised in the land of transaction-based selling, but is knowledge transfer validated? Are the promised results delivered? Are relationships cultivated? Or are we just moving on to the next sale?

This is the hustle and it takes a lot of hustle to maintain revenue flow, and even more if you want to grow.

Add some Soul to Grow

So let’s talk about the impacts of adding a little soul with relationship-based selling. It seems natural to want to complicate this process, but in reality relationships come naturally if we allow them.

This approach looks beyond impersonal and sterile terminology like “buyer” or “prospect” and instead focuses on nurturing strong connections with those whom you can provide great value or service.

Think of it as the relationship first approach. Make no mistake, when you take the time to build relationships, and garner trust, you endear yourself and your organization to your clients. And it’s worth the time and effort. 

Organizations utilizing a relationship-based selling strategy focus on a win-win solution and on the long-term relationships.

It is a sales technique takes into account that:

  • up to 80% of your future pipeline will come from 20% of your existing customers
  • acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer
  • increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits from 25-90%
  • selling to happy existing customers has a success rate of 60-70% 
  • relationships lead to referrals

When you focus on relationship-based sales, you transform from salesperson to trusted resource. You are seen as the subject matter expert your clients can depend on for honest dialogue and tailored advice. Something magical happens for the entrepreneur and/or the sales team.

Connecting with clients and prospects, following up, and checking in becomes easier because you are on the same team focused on problem solving. Asking for the sale becomes a natural part of the conversation because the focus is win-win.

So maybe you have been hustling, working the numbers and transaction-based selling has brought you some success, but your curiosity is piqued and you’re interested in exploring the difference relationship-based selling can make in your business. Let’s talk about transitioning.

Tips for Building Strong Relationships

You are likely already a pro at building relationships. Over the years you’ve cultivated relationships from school, work, the gym, with staff at your favorite coffee shop or restaurant. You are already good at this. Here are some tips for building relationships:

  1. Integrity. At the core of any relationship is honesty.
  2. Active listening. Your clients and prospects will seek you out as their trusted advisor when they know that you are truly listening, and understand their concerns. 
  3. Have conversations. Yes, as a sales professional and entrepreneur you know your craft. That means understanding your offering, your competition, and your objection handling, but leave the “pitch” behind. Relax and focus on an engaged conversation that provides value. 
  4. Seek feedback. This can’t be highlighted enough. Seeking feedback shows the client that you are actively listening and value them.
  5. Add value. This can be anything from a fun marketing tchotchke, to an article or blog they might enjoy, an industry connection, a solution, or even a fresh perspective.
  6. Be genuine. Humans can sense when someone is insincere and clients will stop trusting you if they sense that you are disingenuous or manipulating them for a sale. Just don’t.
  7. Have a system. Relationships take effort, and do not happen over night. Use a system to keep you on track, but don’t over automate. Human relationships take human touch. 
  8. Be responsive. This can’t be overstated. Being responsive builds trust and shows your client or prospect that they are a priority, and they can count on you.
  9. Content marketing is part of the strategy. When you create content that clients need, it reinforces loyalty to your brand. Keep your content relationship focused. 
  10. Maintain your relationships. Whether the deal closed, or they chose a competitor, stay in touch. Congratulate them on successes, let them know about new product releases or new offerings. This effort is often rewarded with referrals and future business.

People Connect with and Buy from People

When you focus on relationships, you not only create a transformation opportunity for your client, but also for your pipeline, now and in the future. 

So what do you think? Are you ready to transition to relationship-based selling? Do you have any tips for building and strengthening relationships with your clients and prospects? 

Tammey Grable-Woodford has over 25 years of executive leadership experience and an Executive MBA from the University of Washington Foster School of Business. She works with private, public, and nonprofit organizations providing consulting and entrepreneurial mentoring services with a focus on core business planning and strategy for strong organizational foundations and sustainable growth. She is a sought after speaker, trainer, and professional resource. Tammey also hosts a globally recognized podcast.