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In part two of this Strategic Selling Series, I’ll share ways you can build high-impact relationships, whether they’re specific to an opportunity, or they’re part of your greater network. Your ability to build relationships is foundational to your success with client growth. For the first article in the series, I covered why you need advisory business intelligence to grow your client base and several strategies to help you build it.

We’re in a world extremely connected through technology. We can find virtually anyone and begin to build a picture of the organization in a few keystrokes. But sellers and business developers often mistake connections for relationships. Or they build relationships only where they’re comfortable, whether that’s with a certain department, role, or leadership level.

What are some specific ways you can be thinking differently about relationships and how you build them?

Map out the relationships you have for a specific opportunity. I do an exercise with clients where we build out their relationship ecosystems and buying roles in an opportunity. This is a more strategic approach because it will give you a bigger picture of strengths and gaps. I remember a sales opportunity where I lost a multi-million-dollar project because I was missing one key relationship group. Mapping your relationships doesn’t need to be time-consuming; it will pay off by helping you accelerate progress and reduce risks in your opportunities.

Assess for gaps and get beyond the typical silos. You might be building relationships only where you’re most comfortable. Your success will be in getting beyond your comfort level; you can do that by assessing and filling in relationship gaps. In mapping your relationships you’ll see patterns. For example, you may see a pattern where you’re selling only one product or solution to one type of role. You’re siloed and likely missing many other relationships. This is especially important if your growth strategy includes expanding different products or services within your client base.

Build your strategic alliances. This one strategy has made a significant difference in both the quality of my relationships and the quality of the opportunities I’m able to create. Do you have alliances outside of your organization, with other providers serving like clients? A way to begin is by creating a list of the tangential providers who sell non-competitive products or solutions to your clients and verticals. From there you can assess which ones are the most promising and begin building those relationships.

Focus on deepening relationships with current clients. In the quest to always earn net-new clients, deepening relationships with current clients is often forgotten. But this can be the best source of continual, high-quality opportunities. One strategy is to create a list of your top ten clients and then create a relationship map for each one. See where you can uncover new relationships and new ways to serve that client. You’ll amplify your success with a client where you already have trust and credibility.

Aim higher in the organization. You might be used to working in the middle of an organization, and in many cases that may be where your decision-makers are. But you can (and should) build awareness and relationships at the higher levels of an organization. Ways you might start this process include introductions on LinkedIn, sharing of research and insights that can improve their business, or a request for a higher-level leader to join your next account review or project meeting.

To get started, choose one of your top clients and begin working through at least one or two of these strategies with that client in mind. It will undoubtedly open more relationships and also opportunities to serve your client and win high-value business.

Want to build more of these modern-selling skills? Strategic Selling for Professional Services is live and fully digital! Ideal for teams and individual sellers in both professional services and complex B2B environments.  Access two free preview lessons and learn more at

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