16 March, 2023

3 Reasons Elite Sellers Embrace Strategic Relationship Management

Sales Strategy, Sales Teams, Strategic Relationship Management

Sarah Close

We recently introduced Strategic Relationship Management to the world in an in-depth discussion between Databook CEO Anand Shah and Matt Dixon, acclaimed business researcher and bestselling author of The Challenger Sale and The JOLT Effect

Strategic Relationship Management (SRM) is about deepening and expanding your connection with customers by aligning around a clear understanding of their needs—and as Anand and Matt discussed, this is in many ways something that the highest performing salespeople have been actively working at for years. So what did they know that other sellers didn’t? And how does SRM technology open new doors for buyers and sellers alike? 

Here are three key takeaways from Anand and Matt’s conversation, all pointing at why SRM is the high performer’s choice for creating bigger, better deals.

The pain of same is worse than the pain of change.

As a salesperson, it has always been your job to convince buyers that change is necessary, even though it can be difficult. But as Matt cautioned, sellers must also be willing to change. Today’s more strategic buyers won’t be swayed by old school tactics.

“Our research has shown that high performers spend a lot more time doing upfront due diligence, research, and preparation,” he explained. They put in the work to “understand the customer opportunity, tailor the outreach, and think very critically about how and who they’re going to engage.” Why? Because it works. This is the crux of SRM—and it’s what buyers demand.

The good news is that SRM technology can now help you tackle the heavy lifting with advanced AI and automation, making it faster and easier to uncover the strategic story for every account. What used to take hours or weeks now takes minutes, freeing you to focus on the relationship—not the research. 

In other words, the “pain of change” is no longer an excuse for inaction.

Mechanized selling doesn’t work for complex, high-value enterprise sales.

Sales has long been viewed as a numbers game—but it’s one that, according to Matt Dixon, high performers haven’t been playing. Why? Because it doesn’t pay off.

Matt’s research has shown that the numbers game only works in “very simple sales environments, where you’re competing on volume, slinging products on a transactional basis,” he said. These are almost always lower value deals because they’re capable of moving through the cycle faster, with less involvement on the buyer’s side. 

Complex deals, on the other hand, take longer because they involve enterprise-level solutions that address large business problems for the customer—and therefore they require more buy-in and a greater investment. Elite sellers know this, so they’re willing to take the SRM approach, using highly contextualized, personalized outreach that resonates with executives. And they don’t shy away from using hard-hitting specifics about a customer’s financial performance or metrics. In fact, Anand shared, “A recent Databook survey of around 800 B2B sellers found that 83% of high performers use financial data or reports in at least one area of their sales motion.”

So why hasn’t every seller been doing this? Because today’s revenue technology still focuses primarily on the mechanics of execution: making more phone calls, sending more emails, praying something sticks. Spam cannons have become the norm, and strategy has been pushed out of reach. And the more that leadership supports this approach, the more average sellers are concerned about making any adjustments that might result in a noticeable productivity dip. 

“SRM is about ending this numbers game, empowering average sellers with the tools to make the strategic customer connections that high performers have been forging all along, in far less time and with far less effort.  “And it’s not automating mediocrity. There’s plenty of technology that does that,” Matt stated. “SRM is automating what we know the best salespeople have always done. In many respects, it’s like these folks climbed a mountain—and now Databook installed an elevator to the top floor.”

“SRM is automating what we know the best salespeople have always done. In many respects, it’s like these folks climbed a mountain—and now Databook installed an elevator to the top floor.”

-Matt Dixon, bestselling author of The Challenger Sale

Taking deals to the finish line demands sellers deeply understand their customers.

In the past, sellers tried to create FOMO (fear of missing out) to avoid deals being lost or ending in no decision. However, today’s smarter, more strategic buyers are less concerned about missing out and more concerned about making the right decision. To combat the fear of messing up (FOMU), sellers need to transform their relationships with buyers by first deeply understanding their needs and then showing the buyer how a solution directly addresses those needs to deliver the best outcome.

According to Matt Dixon, high-performing sellers have this practice down. “SRM helps instill that confidence,” he explained, because when you focus on the relationship, and put the buyer’s pain and priorities at the center of your narrative, you’re seen as a trusted advisor. “High performers are telling customers, ‘I have your back. You’re not gonna look like a fool. You’re gonna look like a hero,’” he said. “And that gets them over the indecision.”

SRM might be new in name, but as Anand and Matt’s discussion clearly outlined, the framework behind it is something elite salespeople have known for decades. Now that SRM technology facilitates the practices behind high-performing behaviors, however, you need to step up—or risk losing deals.

As Matt Dixon summed it up, “With technologies like Databook available, there is no excuse not to engage this way. Because as customers start to see more of that personalized, contextualized, tailored outreach and strategy in play, they’re going to expect it from everybody.

Eager to watch the whole conversation between Anand Shah and Matt Dixon? Click here to view the event recording on LinkedIn, or simply play the video below.