Sales Coaching Series, Part 9: How do you build strong business relationships?

Over the course of these initial blogs, the importance of relationships has been emphasised again and again.

So, how do you go about building this foundation that is so essential for sales success?

We mentioned previously that people like buying from people whom they like. So, what is your likeability factor? Do you come across as someone that is friendly, honest, caring and who shows respect for the other person? Do you respect their time? For example, showing up for meetings on time, prepared and ready for action, is a form of respect.

People who are late for meetings are essentially saying to the other person that, something was more important than you. If you are late for a meeting, do you actually apologise, ask for forgiveness and promise that it will never happen again? That's true  respect!

If the purpose of your business is to attract in and retain customers, then every moment of impression that you make on them, must be a positive one. Treating people with respect, like turning up on time and keeping to your promises are fundamentals and many people, unfortunately miss this critical success factor.

How much do you actually care about your customer? I mean really care about them and how you can become a trusted supplier. It is almost like becoming their "friend". I don't mean that you need to meet them at weekends and go on holidays with them... it's when you are with them, do you treat them with care and respect?

Anybody that pays my bills, in other words, my customers, I am going to love them! This does not mean that you get into false flattery, manipulation or activities that lack integrity. No, what I mean is that you treat others like you would like to be treated.

For example, when you greet them and meet, do you smile, are you courteous, do you shake their hand, look into their eyes, and demonstrates that you are really happy to be with them.

I am fully aware that in business, there are challenges with clients and customers, and that not everything goes smoothly and in straight lines. It is rarely La-La Land!

However, you are there to make sure that those kinks and boulders in the road of your relationship and on the journey are ironed out as much as possible. This means compromise, this means ensuring that the clients self-esteem is protected, this means that your communication skills need to be well honed.

Remember that when you meet a prospect or client, you have to be where they are right now, not where you wish them to be. You have no idea what may have happened to that individual before leaving for work that morning, what happened earlier in the day in their business and what they may be facing and is preoccupying their minds.

So, being non-judgemental and accepting what you find is a rather important success factor in the sales business. Judge not, lest you be judged!

It is easy to find something nice to say. Pass a favourable comment on how well the person looks or, (if not looking that well), find something else to praise. It costs you nothing. Be courteous and thank them for their time. In other words, they are taking time out of their busy schedule and day, to give you the opportunity to tell them whatever you have to tell them. In that case, a couple of "thank you" interjections will not go amiss. Thank you for seeing me, thank you for giving me your time, thank you for the information you gave me… thank you, thank you, thank you!

A poignant story comes to mind about being judgemental.

A young man with three children were on the underground in London and, it looked as if the three kids were out of control, running, jumping off seats, screaming, fighting and the dad behaved and looked oblivious to the mini mayhem that was going on in the carriage. There were lots of "tut-tuts" and sidelong glances by some of the passengers. After about 20 minutes, in exasperation, a passenger went to the father and asked him whether he would mind controlling his "brats", to reprimand them, control them and behave like a responsible adult. The dad seemed to be aware for the first time about what was going on around him and herded the kids together. Once they were calm, he went and apologised to the passenger and explained that he had just left the hospital where his young wife had just died and he was bringing kids to his mum's home to be minded.

One doesn't have to say much more about being judgemental and centred on oneself to get the oint across.

Think about how you can apply this lesson the next time that you are meeting a client or prospect. How different will you behave?

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