Building pipeline and driving sales will always be a top priority for organisations, it's just that the route to this has changed considerably.

Adapting to the new buyer journey where 60-70% of the decision making process is complete before the customer even talks to a vendor is essential (Forrester). 

There is so much marketing content available online that the modern buyer no longer needs the salesperson for information on products and services. This is where building relationships become vital  - we need to be listening to our customers online, understanding what matters to them and responding appropriately. 

In fact, Sean Callahan, Senior Content Marketer at LinkedIn states that by 2020, it's predicted that customer experience will overtake product and price as the key differentiator in a B2B purchase decision - highlighting how important it is that we develop strong relationships with our customers.

We can gain customer's trust by participating in their online conversations on blogs and social media, which is a great way to start interacting and meeting your customers where they are.

Traditional outbound sales used cold outreach and lead with a generic elevator pitch to qualify on budget, but this just doesn't work anymore!

Good business (and personal) relationships are based on:

Empathy - listen to your customer's needs closely

Authenticity - be genuine, the pushy sales pitch won't win you any favours

Personalisation - make sure your content is personalised to your customer's context

Be helpful - offer useful insights to help your customer on their buyer journey 

I would like to be known for all of the above qualities - makes me think that basically being a decent human being and treating customers as you would like to be treated will actually do more for building relationships and sales than any complicated sales theory!

For further reading on ways to build a relationship based selling approach, check out HubSpot's blog  "The Inbound Sales Methodology".

I also recommend you read the rest of the post by LinkedIn's Sales Blog below which discusses the key signs to watch out for when your customer relationship is at risk - and how to fix them!