July 14, 2015

Six actionable tips to help you capture the power of relationship building in sales

BY John Paul Narowski IN Productivity, Sales and Marketing 0 Comment

building trust in customer relationship

Sales seem to be an arcane art at times but the truth is it usually boils down to the value you can provide.

This doesn’t only apply to your product. It applies to your ability to craft value in the form of meaningful relationship building.

Every marketer knows that their product succeeds once they put the right message in front of the right target audience. If you know who you’re selling to and exactly what they want, you should strive to know who they are and what pain they’re looking to solve.

This isn’t a one-way street either. Building a meaningful relationship implies a level of trust and commitment that can help you close present and future sales. By crafting a finer understanding and empathy with your customer, you can get them to open up and be genuine with you.

By offering honest feedback, you can listen to the customer and get not only a sense of what they want from you, but also you will be able to confidently gauge what step in the selling process they are. You’ll get more sales doing so because you’ll be able to get real feedback at every step in your process.

You’ll also get something more than a sale: you’ll get a lasting commitment to one another. One successful sale can often lead to a lifetime of value building.

The power of relationship building

We live in an age where technology has helped reveal innate needs. Personalized ads help drive 10 times more action than conventional digital ads.

74% of people get frustrated when a website offers them content that doesn’t fit their needs. If people are expecting websites to know enough about them to be relevant, the bar for personal knowledge and empathy has surely risen for interpersonal contact.

The need for building and maintaining valuable relationships has never been higher. The Gallup group has come out with research that indicates most Americans don’t trust other people or institutions by default. The youngest generation of Millennials shows that this trend is getting worse as time goes by: while 40% of boomers think people around them can be trusted, only 19% of Millennials think the same. With a gradual erosion of social trust in individuals and institutions, those people who can build and inspire trust will be able to easily differentiate themselves for decades to come.

It’s a timeless truth, one observed by Dale Carnegie decades ago:

“Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance and kindness.”

That doesn’t mean faking it. It means taking the time to put in the hard work of genuine relationships that provide lasting value.

As Dale Carnagie put it:

“The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out.”

Here are the six actionable tips you need to build powerful relationships from the heart out.

1- Provide value before you ask for it.

Neil Fogarty has been building business relationships for 20 years. His first actionable tip for relationship building is key: provide value before you ask for any.

It’s the same thing Steve Blank says for getting meetings with people too busy to see you.

Neil has a close personal relationship with Richard Branson. Many emails have been sent to him ,intended to ask for an introduction to Richard Branson and nothing else. None of them have been read.

A concrete example: Consider mapping out the industry beyond your product so you can provide value to your client before you ever pitch them anything. If your sales instincts are right, the lead you’ll have hit will be inclined towards the differences in your solution and you’ll have given your customer something before you ever asked for anything.

2) Be an active listener.

Go beyond nodding and smiling: ensure the conversation flows where it needs to. Listen and provide feedback on what you’re hearing. Figure out what your customer is objecting to and tailor your process so that those objections are met.

A concrete example: Ask your customer what their pain points are and focus your pitch on how your solution helps those problems.

3) Be proactive.

If you can see a problem, reach out. If your client starts hinting that there are issues they face with another department, budgeting, compliance–try to make an effort to see if you can help. That effort will go a long way towards building meaningful relationships.

A concrete example: If you’re able to help with a customer problem, reach out. Let’s say your customer really likes your solution but has a hard time pitching it to a superior. If you can sense that, offer to write out a template for them they can use.

4) Be emotionally aware

It’s not enough to just be a listener. You should also be aware of the context of the words and the person who is expressing them. You can take that awareness and translate it into action by focusing the energy and tenor of the conversation towards a mutual win-win feeling of excitement rather than a competitive atmosphere of buyer vs seller.

A concrete example: Rather than driving a hard line over pricing and haggling over every cent over a matter of ego, take your conversations towards a positive win-win atmosphere where you want to provide as much value to the customer as possible. Use your emotional intelligence to assert that your goals clearly aligned, and move towards a resolution once you’ve discerned that the timing is just right.

5) Don’t sacrifice the long-term for the short-term

One of the most damaging stereotypes of salespeople involves the desperate closer, somebody who is going all-out to achieve that sale. That type of mentality can easily burn bridges, especially if a salesperson focuses away from providing value and focuses on providing as much pressure as possible. Sometimes, the timing is just not right, or the return on getting a sale right now might not be worth damaging what could be a long-term win-win relationship.

A concrete example: If you find yourself pushing the customer at all costs to get a short-term sale, step back and think it through for a while. Are you promising things that you won’t be able to deliver? Are you putting undue pressure on a long-standing client? Scale your approach back if so.

6) Prove that they’re not just a number.

You want to be there when it matters, not just to close sales. The best salespeople remember birthdays and events. They remember to send Christmas cards. That’s because, at the end of the day, sales are human-to-human connections built with empathy and maintained with value.

A concrete example: Use a CRM like KarmaCRM to record the birthdates and important events for your clients, then make sure you reach out at exactly the right time.

Want more advice on relationship building and personalization?

Check out this CrazyEgg blog post on personalization, and this post by Jeff Haber.


I’ve been hacking at various business ideas since I was 16. I’m a full stack developer and love crafting user experiences. I’ve been nose deep in code since I put the legos down, and built several successful businesses in the process. I’ve lost some hair, gained some experience and throughly enjoyed the journey.

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