Relationship based selling goes way beyond your product or service. You become a trusted advisor because you put the customer’s business above your own interests. This leads to longevity which can lead to repeat business and it helps build you and your company’s reputation. Trust is what builds the reputation of great companies like Apple, Ritz Carlton, and Disney.
I’d like to share four elements that are needed for building long lasting customer relationships.
The first is empathy, which is having the mindset of your customer. It’s putting yourself in their shoes so you can understand their needs and problems from their perspective not yours. And when done authentically, they can tell! Pleasing the customer becomes your priority above all else. Empathy builds trust which is the foundation of the relationship.
The second point is personality. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know there are four personality styles that are driven by different needs and desires. My Four People You Should Know model is color-coded with Blue, Green, Gold and Orange personality styles. These different styles help you understand how the customer prefers to communicate, what they value and how they make decisions. And it helps you design, present, and discuss solutions in a way that they can hear and respond. Are they detailed or big picture? Do they make decisions fast or slow? You can take the assessment and invite your customers to take the assessment at stutschlackman.com. Blues are the relator type. Greens are detectives looking for the details. Golds are the directors and Oranges are the activators.
The third element is accountability. No sales transaction goes perfectly. Honesty is the best policy. Be you and be genuine. If you don’t know, don’t pretend. Hold yourself accountable and take ownership for everything you do. Don’t be like the salespeople that never admit that they made a mistake and always have an excuse if something goes wrong. I believe you need to be proactive in giving news that is not what your customers and prospects want to hear. Good salespeople will fall on their sword and admit their mistakes when they make it. This goes a long way towards building that trusting relationship.
The fourth point is building a personal connection. Small talk personalizes the conversation. Today the internet, LinkedIn and all the information at our fingertips gives you access about people we never had in the past. It’s a known fact that when you can make a connection with your customer that is personal, it adds a new dimension to the relationship. Maybe you grew up in the same town, your customer and you were born in September, you went to the same college or fraternity house. As simple as this may sound, it is a common point that gives you and the customer to relate to. I’ve seen this make a difference in sales many times.
Sales is a mixture of art and science, but I believe it’s the art that sets you apart from everyone else. Having empathy, understanding personality, being accountable and making a personal connection helps you to build a long-term relationship that reaps reward for you and your company.
Good luck with your relationship selling!