9 Steps to Building a Profitable Customer Relationship

Success in sales depends directly on your ability to make yourself
likeable, and create a positive experience for your customers. The
following 9 Tips are some of the best – and easiest – ways I know
to help you create a more positive customer experience:

  1. Love what you sell, the company you work for and the customers
    you serve.

    If you are truly passionate about these three things, your willingness
    to help your customers solve their problems will shine through.
    Customers will believe your sincerity and be captivated by your
    excitement. In short – you will be fun to work with. Our studies
    show that customers prefer to buy from sales people who overtly
    show that they believe in the products they sell, and the companies
    they work for. Choose to be honest, open and empathetic to your
    customers’ needs, and you will experience consistent sales growth,
    build an excellent reputation and become one of the top performers
    in your field.

  2. Be empathetic and compassionate.
    Truly care about your customers, and remember that no matter how
    good an actor you are, faking it simply won’t work. Ask questions,
    take notes and lean in to show that you’re engaged in their answers.
    When you take an interest in people, they remember you – and when
    people remember you, it’s good for business.

  3. Add value and give first.
    Share your network of contacts with your customers, and don’t expect
    them to give you their business without you giving them something
    first. I don’t mean give away free product in the hopes they will
    buy more. Instead, give away things that increase your value – like
    a referral to a partner of yours, a solution to a business problem
    that you read about or heard from someone else, or even help finding
    a new dentist!

  4. Make eye contact.
    This is especially important when you walk into a room full of people.
    Eye contact is also essential after we get to know people, because
    it cements our existing relationships and lets them know that we’re
    still interested in their well being. Very few sales people ever
    look their prospects directly in the eye. By simply smiling and
    making eye contact, you’ll be surprised how much you will set yourself

  5. Express your true intent.
    Tell customers upfront: "I don’t know if there’s a fit between
    what you need and what I have right now, but I’m hoping we can explore
    that in more detail during this meeting." Or: "I only
    have your best interests at heart, and I promise to be honest with
    you throughout our conversation. In the end, I hope that we can
    mutually decide if there is a reason to move forward. If not, that’s
    fine too, and I hope you’ll feel comfortable telling me so."
    This advice runs counter to 90% of the approaches I see being used
    in the field today. But then again, maybe that’s why only 10% of
    sales people are top performers. Try it yourself a few times, and
    you’ll be amazed at the response you get.

  6. Don’t go for the big decision all at once.
    In our personal lives, we don’t propose to someone on a first date
    (at least, not usually!). The same is true in our business relationships.
    So get approval from the customer to move ahead in increasing increments.
    The first approval might be just to agree to speak openly with each
    other, as outlined in Tip #5 above. The second could be an agreement
    on a follow-up call time or meeting date. The third might be gaining
    agreement on the decision making criteria or a commitment to have
    the "big boss" present at the demo, followed by an agreement
    to a "go/no go" decision date. All too often, I see sales
    people jumping way ahead of their prospect’s buying curve. This
    puts the buyer and seller out of synch. When the sales person is
    trying to close while the prospect is still evaluating options or
    determining risk, trust is broken, the prospect feels pushed and
    the sale comes dangerously close to disappearing.

  7. Use friendly, warm words.
    When you use simple language instead of formal "business speak,"
    people respond better and trust you more. So limit your words to
    three syllables max. And don’t try to impress prospects with your
    extensive vocabulary, or you may end up just sounding fake.

  8. Use people’s names.
    When it comes to using names, there are just two rules to follow:
    first, be aware of whether they’re more comfortable with first name
    only or title + last name; second, never overuse their name – this
    only sounds corny and false. Dale Carnegie once said, "nothing
    is so beautiful to a person as the sound of their own name."
    Just use your discretion.

  9. Ask the right questions.
    Successfully building agreement with your prospects depends on your
    ability to ask the right questions. What are the right questions?
    Those that move the prospect from an intellectual position of knowing
    they have a problem that needs to be solved, to an emotional state
    of trusting you to solve that problem in a way that will satisfy
    In short, the right questions are those that reveal true buying
    motivations. Mastering the right questions will ensure that you
    and your client build a strong relationship, wherein you can both
    succeed – and profit!

To help you close more deals and build lasting profitable customer
relationships, try asking some of the following questions during your
needs analysis:

1. Identify the intellectual problem with a lead-in question.

  • What makes you think…?
  • How do you select…?
  • What’s most important to you about…?
  • Where do you see…?
  • How have you employed…?
  • What has been your experience with…?

2. Develop an intellectual awareness about this problem.

  • Can you tell me more about it?
  • Could you be more specific?
  • How long have you had this concern?
  • What have you done to address it?
  • How did that work out?

3. Identify the specific business impact of this problem.

  • How has this problem impacted your organization?
  • If you had to guess, what do you think this problem is costing
    your department / company / business / etc?

  • What will happen if this problem continues?

4. Get emotional! Identify the specific personal impact of this

  • What impact does this problem have on your job / your staff?
  • How important is this to you personally?
  • What will happen if you don’t find a solution to this problem?
  • Why is it so important?

Remember: your success is directly determined by the way you are
perceived, and the amount of effort you put into your career. Changing
any of those variables will have a huge impact on whether you succeed
or fail.

After all, in good times or in bad, the type of sales person you
choose to be is 100% up to you.