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Three Building Blocks of Successful Customer Relationships

By David Jacoby

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Sales reps, who typically tend to be pretty social by nature, will often try to build rapport with customers based on a “sales truism” that people buy from people they like. While likability is important, it is crucial not to confuse great customer rapport with building relationships. In fact, too much time spent building rapport (i.e. schmoozing) may actually backfire if the sales reps start to wear out their welcome.

While rapport is important, the building blocks for successful customer relationships are based on trust, listening, and providing value:

1) Trust

Trust is foundational to all relationships, including sales. Research suggests that five major factors can increase trust:

  • Reliability
  • Honesty
  • Responsiveness
  • Objectivity
  • Competence

Sales people should always keep these factors in mind whenever interacting with a customer.

2) Listening

Listening is probably one of the best ways to build a great relationship with a customer and will help you throughout the entire Sales Process. Unfortunately, many sales professionals are poor listeners – they feel like they need to do all of the talking. A good rule of thumb is that you should do 1/3 of the talking and the customer should do 2/3.

Most successful sales reps excel at “active listening” which means they are suspending their own thoughts when the customer is speaking and focusing 100% on listening to the customer.

It is not enough to listen to a customer. The customer must also feel that you are listening to them. Great listeners do this by using such techniques as asking questions, paraphrasing, summarizing and empathizing with the customer.

3) Providing Value

Sales reps also need to add value throughout the sales process. Unfortunately, very little value is created by schmoozing. To create real value, sales reps need to provide the knowledge or expertise their customers need to solve business problems.

Ultimately, a little less schmoozing and a lot more relationship building through trust, listening, and value will result in a much more productive customer relationship.

Learn how to ensure sales success and reduce turnover

About David Jacoby

David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.

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