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Retail

Relationship selling is not dead

31/10/2017
By Ross Simmonds
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Technology is transforming the way practices interact with their clients, but ROSS SIMMONDS says relationships remain just as important as ever, even if the way they are forming has changed.

Some claim relationship selling is dead. Not only would I disagree, I’d even argue that relationships are the most important factor for long-term success. This is especially true for independent optometrists facing competition from larger optical chains that sell on price.

Technology has certainly changed the profession’s sales landscape; I don’t deny that. But the idea that relationships no longer matter can be attributed to a lack of understanding about what a relationship really is. A selling relationship is very complex and takes time to discover, create, and nurture – it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not a means to an end.

Here are a few tips on how to breathe life back into selling relationships.

DISCOVER

Use existing patient relationships to discover new leads through warm introductions. Strong relationships with clients can be direct paths to a sea of new business.

"A selling relationship is very complex and takes time to discover, create, and nurture – it doesn’t happen overnight and it’s not a means to an end."

Make it easier for potential new patients to find you online by using search engines to your advantage. It’s your job to make them want to connect with you.

It’s important that when a potential client visits your website, they quickly identify you as a place they can trust. Whether you like it or not, consumers are forming their opinions of you and your competition from your website.

CREATE

Avoid being static or passive online. Instead, build expertise and new business opportunities by creating and sharing relevant content through your website and social media platforms. In addition, develop a mailing list and use it to send relevant and targeted information to existing patients.

The key word in that last sentence is ‘relevant’. Too many businesses believe that a mailing list should be used to simply preach and scream their story. In reality, your email should be something that delivers value to your audience and something that they want to open week after week.

Instead of simply providing them with a list of your products and services, deliver content that adds value such as a link to a relevant article on eye care. Remember: it’s all about adding value.

Remain top of mind and remind your patients of the value you offer them. Get out of your box every now and then and start attending trade shows, conferences and events to create new relationships. The best relationships are yet to be made, so make the effort to connect and there’s no telling how much your bottom line will benefit.

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NURTURE

Focus on building relationships with past patients, suppliers and partners. People who have already enjoyed doing business with you are the most loyal relationships you have. Keep them engaged to drive more business and new introductions.

Also consider the importance and benefits of reaching out and establishing and cultivating relationships with referral partners such as GPs and ophthalmologists. In addition to potentially increasing your business, these relationships can also further enhance the service you provide your patients.

"Making an effort to connect can help improve your bottom line"

Spend time understanding each individual patient’s wants and needs, and demonstrate your value and commitment to meeting those needs. This will foster relationships that are built on trust.

Technology has changed the way optometrists do business, but relationships are still at the core. You can use technology to learn more about your patients and strengthen existing relationships.

You can use social media to keep track of their anniversaries or birthdays and use email to deliver educational or engaging content to their inbox. It’s these little things that can help you build stronger relationships and loyal patients through technology.

Change is one thing in life that’s constant. Even though the way relationships are created and nurtured has changed, relationships still remain the foundation of a practice’s success.

At the end of the day, relationships are still built on trust, and technology is simply a tool that can help you build it.

THE SECRET TO A SUCCESSFUL SELLING RELATIONSHIP

A successful selling relationship is personal, professional and built on trust. The most beneficial relationships in business are those in which the buyer and seller have a mutual connection and trust for one another.

Developing this trust is something that takes time to develop, seconds to break and years to repair. To build trust, you should aim to educate consumers. Studies show that people trust those who help them.

If you provide your patients with information that is educational, they will begin to look at you as a teacher and valued connection. This relationship is important as it can lead to loyalty, word-of-mouth promotion and an increase in patient retention.

 

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