“Thousands of salespeople are pounding the pavements today. Tired. Discouraged. Underpaid. Why? Because they are thinking only of what they want. They don’t realize that neither you nor I want to buy anything. If we did, we would go out and buy it. But both of us are eternally interested in solving our problems. If salespeople can show us how their services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, they won’t need to sell us. We’ll buy. Customers like to feel that they are buying – not being sold.” 

This timeless piece of advice from Dale Carnegie is more relevant today than ever before. Customers now have access to more information, including product specs and pricing on your website and customer reviews on the Internet, as well as an army of recommendations from their social media friends and family. As a sales professional, your ability to build a relationship with the customer is your biggest competitive edge in the information age.

“To be interesting, be interested.” – Dale Carnegie

5 STEPS TO BUILDING THE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIP

1 – Create Value

Customers want to know what you can do for them, either by solving their problems or helping them capitalize on new opportunities. To give value, you must first understand what your customers truly want. This involves active listening and questioning as stated before, but it also requires research. You should always ask yourself, “How am I providing value to the customer?”

2 – Facts and Benefits

Facts and benefits are one way to provide value. However many times sales professionals can rely too heavily on these. As Dale Carnegie said, “Merely stating a truth isn’t enough. The truth has to be made vivid, interesting, and dramatic.” A great way to bring to life facts, benefits, and ultimately your products solutions is to tell a story. It is much easier for your customer to retain benefits and solutions when you center them around a story. 

3 – Qualifying Questions

Be sure to handle qualifying questions with care. It is tempting to qualify the customer right away. It is important to not ask too many qualifying questions up front or too early in the process, which can be off-putting to the potential buyer. That said, you don’t want to waste your time or the customer’s time on a product or solution that might not be the right fit. Take the client’s perspective and frame your questions in a way that will help answer the customer’s questions as well as answer your qualifying questions. This will reduce the amount of time spent setting appointments with people who are unlikely to buy or who don’t have the authority. 

4 – Gaining Commitment 

You need to ask for the businesses. When you are successfully building a relationship, it will feel more like a request for partnership than a “will you buy something from me” moment. Whether it is by asking direct questions or by asking the customer to select one or two options, use a method that feels natural. 

5 – Follow‐Up & Customer Relationship Management 

The follow‐up process is almost as critical as your ability to close the customer. It is much easier to retain and grow existing customers than it is to find new ones. For that fact, your service and availability need to be just as responsive as they were before the sale! Follow‐ups and check‐ins are also a perfect time to identify future opportunities, gain referrals, and catch challenges before they become an issue.

Relationship Selling is a long-term sales strategy that takes time and commitment, but it will go a very long way in laying the foundation for a sustainable sales pipeline that allows you to break through quotas and achieve sales. 

‘’…if salespeople can show us how their services or merchandise will help us solve our problems, they won’t need to sell us. We’ll buy. Customers like to feel that they are buying – not being sold.’’ – Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie is the leader in developing relationship selling to exceed quotas, expand deals, and develop a reliable and sustainable pipeline of business. To learn how we can help improve sales effectiveness for your organization, contact Elissa Ruckle at 307.277.4782 or Elissa.Ruckle@dalecarnegie.com.

Elissa Ruckle