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18 Keys to Better Customer Relationships

Building a customer relationship is a fundamentally different process from making a sale. Yes, selling may be part of the process but when it's done right, relationship building is about creating a long-term connection, even if it means not making a sale today. Here are some quick rules for relationship building.

BEFORE CONTACTING A PROSPECT:

  • #1: Have a sales philosophy that emphasizes relationship building.
  • #2: Value the relationship more than making your quota.
  • #3: Think end-of-time relationships, not end-of-month totals.
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE CONVERSATION:
  • #4: Don't try to be too friendly too quickly.
  • #5: Be interested in the customer as a person.
  • #6: Let the friendliness emerge gradually during the conversation.
  • #7: Remember that nobody likes to be sold but everyone likes to buy.
DURING THE CONVERSATION:
  • #8: Don't try to be a hero who swoops in to solve the customer's problem.
  • #9: Gather information before proposing; don't shoot in the dark.
  • #10: Treat information gathering as a conversation, not an inquisition.
  • #11: Find out what the customer likes, wants and needs.
  • #12: After you find out, show the customer how to get it.
  • #13: Don't push the process forward too quickly.
  • #14: Listen more than you talk.
AT THE END OF THE CONVERSATION:
  • #15: Treat commitment as a way to deepen the relationship.
  • #16: Achieve a perfect job of delivering what you promised.
  • #17: Provide absolutely impeccable service and followup.
  • #18: Point the customer elsewhere if you can't help.
The above list comes from two powerful sources: Jeffrey Gitomer, author of the classic The Sales Bible, and Dr. Earl Taylor, a master trainer at Dale Carnegie. Thanks, guys!

READERS: Any more you'd like to add?

NOTE: Similar tips and techniques are contained in my soon-to-be-published book How to Say It: Business to Business Selling, now available for pre-sale here.

    All pre-sale royalties are donated to Wide Horizons for Children, an organization that facilitates foreign adoptions and orphanages.

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