How to Build Strong Customer Relationships

Last Updated Sep 23, 2010 1:10 PM EDT

There is no skill more important for long-term success in Sales than the ability to build strong customer relationships. If that's your goal (and it ought to be) there are seven rules that you MUST follow on a consist, daily basis.

Here they are:

  • RULE #1: Believe that relationships are important. People can tell if you're really serious about building relationships or just going through the motions. If you don't really want to have a relationship, don't bother pretending, 'cause it won't work.
  • RULE #2: Be curious about your customers. People are drawn to those who show a true interest in them. Curiosity gives you the opportunity to learn new things and make new connections and to figure out new ways to help.
  • RULE #3: Behave in a consistent manner. A customer's ability to trust is dependent upon your ability to show the customer that you can be counted upon. When a customer can predict your behavior, that customer is more likely to want a strong relationship.
  • RULE #4: Focus on the relationship not the sale. When it comes to relationships, the messenger (who you are) is much more important than the message (what you have to say.) So make sure that you're keeping the relationship in the forefront, not what you're selling.
  • RULE #5: Seek for the deeper truth. Find out if you really have something that can help the customer. Discover the real areas where the two of you can work together. Don't be afraid to admit to your firm's weaknesses, when appropriate.
  • RULE #6: Keep an open mind. Walk into a customer meeting absolutely convinced that the customer needs your offering, and the customer will become close-minded in return. Be open to the idea that the customer might be better served elsewhere.
  • RULE #7: Conduct a real dialog. A customer meeting should be a conversation, not a sales call. You should be listening to the customer at least as much as you're talking, and probably much more. And the dialog should be about business issues, not a chit-chat.
The above is adapted from a conversation that I recently had with Jerry Acuff, author of The Relationship Edge in Business. Smart guy.

READERS: Any more rules that ought to be added?

NOTE: Jerry has a site where readers can receive some free video training tips. To get them go to FreeAcuff.com and enter your email address.