One of my colleagues at The Center For Sales Strategy described a conversation she had with her three young boys about relationships. They asked what a relationship was, and she responded, “There are friendships, business relationships, and…,” before she could get another word out her 6 year old blurted out “and there are pirate ships, and potato ships. . . .”
This got me thinking. Yes indeed, there are many kinds of relationships. Relationships that are simply focused on getting the sale—or booty—as a pirate, are not what you want. This is short-sighted, and actually costs you in the long run. As a salesperson, the type of relationship you build with a client will directly impact your sales. When I was a sales manager, I would often find my salespeople confusing a great relationship with an effective relationship. Great relationships are good to have but if you want to close more business and increase sales, you need effective relationships.
Here are just a few things you can do to help establish relationships that are effective.
Show the customer that you know what you're talking about, you empathize with their challenges, and you can help solve their problems. Do research on the company before you call or make an attempt to connect online. Use terminology important to their business, not yours, and offer up a success story on how you've helped others.
Don't just share information about your products or services, share information you find on their business as well. Do this consistently, not just at the times you would hope for an order. And also think beyond their company. What can you find about their competitors that may be seen as insightful?
Neither of the above really matter if you're not trustworthy. Will you do what you say, and will you do it by the time you say you will? Customers want to know they can count on you and your company to take care of their business.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published on February 1, 2012 and has been updated.