Deep Enduring Customer Relationships I – The Holy Grail!


This topic is ultra-important.  If you can define and reach a “deep relationship”, you have secured trust, credibility, and the ability to communicate openly.  There may be a myriad of books on how to create a deep business relationship, yet this creation is a personal thing.  It is based on your connection, or ability to connect with your client.

Above all, a deep and enduring relationship is based on your clients receptiveness and their ability to value a durable personal relationship as well.  When the customer is receptive, this is an area that you can master, and an area that you can profit from.


Deep, enduring customer relationships are the prize in some sectors of the sales world.  You will not have these with all customers, as an effort is required which goes far beyond the norm.  The objective is to have it with the most important clients.  Remember, if you don’t have a deep relationship with your buyer another sales professional will attempt to gain the buyer’s preference.

What is a “Deep Relationship”?

Before we discuss how to get there, we need to discuss the characteristics of this type of relationship:

  • Preference – You receive preference in the buying relationship and buying process.
  • A “Business” Friend – You are a trusted confidant with unlimited access to the buyer.
  • A Business Consultant – You have knowledge of the customers business that few are privy to, including access to key individuals and information.
  • A Social Acquaintance - Activities (sometimes) overlap into the social setting.  You have knowledge of your customer’s social and family situation, and conversely the buyer has a knowledge of your family situation.

This results in a buyer who, given all other issues, prefers to work with you and uses his power, authority, and influence to keep you the vendor to his organization. This status is an asset, and it is not awarded without some effort and history.

Getting There and Staying There

Getting there is a journey and staying there is a matter of being conscious and consistent.  Attaining this position is done over time and with a lot of work and honesty.  Thispreference supersedes other preferences, including racial preference. Only someone with similar status and professional expertise can remove the incumbent.  It can happen if your promises are not fulfilled, or if your organization falls short in delivering.

I have “business friends”, former customers, from my days as a sales professional who have been friends for over 20 years. I still serve in the roll of business consultant in situations when they reach out for help.  These enduring relationships were based on the following activities:

  • Give unparalleled customer service
  • Be Honest – always tell the truth
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – Tell all as early and completely as you can
  • Share Information – give the customer updates including industry news, product news, legislative news early and often
  • Be the professional
    • Make each contact meaningful and time worthy
    • Be timely in your meetings, contacts, and correspondence.
    • Be the professional

The depth of relationship comes when someone really likes you and understands you.  Some of these components can be included in the business database (such as, Goldmine, or any Customer Relationship Management database) and some of these things should not be resident in a business database.  It is a compendium of information that is between you and the buyer, and should be treated that way.

Components of Your Customer Profile

Know your customer!  Use a Customer Profile to build familiarity, increase intimacy, and gain preference.

Your Customer Profile should include references to the following items:

Customer’s background/history - The customer’s previous employers, and industries.  Know items such as high school, college (if applicable), and geographic background.  Know the customer’s preferred pro teams and hobbies.

Customer facts (away from the office) - This may start with the pictures on his/her desk.  Know the customer’s marital status, number of children including ages and sex.  Know the children’s high schools and colleges.  Sharing your own information is a start.  Sharing knowledge of this information personalizes the relationship. It is a great start!

Customer Requirements – Use the profile as a repository for any must do’s, or requirements for this customer.  Example – When to call, assistant’s name and particulars, and other valuable information.

Use the information wisely, and consistently.  Within your organization become the expert on the customer and his/her business.

The Relationship Building Process

  • Build Trust – Always tell the truth! It is easier to remember.  Avoid stretching it, and avoid white lies. This is extremely important to keep your preference.
  • Communicate, communicate, and communicate! - Give difficult information immediately.  Communicate as frequently as is possible and use different mediums, but in person or phone for difficult news.
  • Be personal and personable - No one will expect to tell you about them if you won’t discuss yourself. Feel free to show your personality.  Discuss the strengths of your story, as a Black sales professional, he has probably not heard one like it.

As a  sales professional, relationship building is ultra important, yet doable.  As you start with your current customers, hone your skills with those who you have the best relationship with.  This will pay dividends for the rest of your sales career.

I am anxious to hear any comments you might have.  You can reach me at

What Keeps Your Customers Awake At Night? Your Key to Success!

Think about it…your utility as a sales professional is partially based on the benefits you bring to the customer.  You cannot escape the fact that there may be equal, or even superior products out there. There may be better services, and for sure better prices.  Remember that you have to bring something that others don’t deliver.  Piece of mind is just that important!


A very successful sales professional once said to me, “The most important thing I can do is to have some true relationship time with my most important customers.  My objective is to determine what problem or future concern is keeping them awake at night.” She then stated, “If I can figure that out, I can give them something that they have not been able to get from anyone else, peace of mind and rest.”

Hmmmm, there is some truth to that isn’t there?  The problems that clients have are not limited to making money and having a sound balance sheet today, this concern goes into the future.  Our customers have a multitude of things on their mind, and most of them have nothing to do with the products that we sell.

Our job is to probe discretely and listen actively to determine if there is anything in the dialog that gives us an understanding of the customers biggest, most pressing concerns.  Help the customer solve pressing issues using your product, and when your product is not enough, use your knowledge and resourcefulness.

If you are able to solve them, you have cemented a stronger relationship that is security in itself.

A Real Life Example

This individual sold financial products.  This included business life insurance products and pensions and retirement instruments.  Here is how the story played out:

My friend, who I will call Deb, worked with a fairly large organization that was a leader in selling financial products to businesses.  Her relationship with the customer was 3 years in tenure, and solid in terms of openness and sharing of information.  She was in his office for a review of her products financial results and overheard a conversation regarding the turnover that her customer was having regarding their employees for the last 2 years.  It was getting worse, and once they finished training a new employee, it was often less than 18 months before someone snatched that employee from them.

While at a business lunch the following week, she shared that she overheard a conversation about this issue.  His response was that employee retention was a huge issue, and that the cost of hiring and rehiring, training, and downtime were taking a huge financial toll on his organization.  Bam! Do you doubt that this problem was keeping this individual and potentially others in his organization up at night?

They discussed some of the reasons that this might be happening, and the customer volunteered that much of this was the result of his location being far from the main town, as well as the fact that his major competitors were offering ‘sign on’ bonuses for skilled employees.  He advised that he was not in a position to offer anything like these bonuses, as it was fundamentally wrong, and way to expensive.  Deb stayed on this one and with help from one of her contacts at the organization determined that the hiring and training cost for a new employee averaged 32% of first year wage.   She scheduled an appointment and advised that they could save money by doing the following:

Initiate a profit sharing plan (Deb’s company’s main product) that the company’s employees could begin contributing to after the 1-year mark.  She urged them to make a matching employer contribution that would get interest from the employees and keep good participation in the plan.  Additionally she suggested that they should talk to their accountant about the possibility of reimburse their employees for their some of their travel costs as it was a factor in the turnover.  The costs would be minimal if the turnover abated according to Deb and the organizations financial people.

Deb’s point was that although they did not want to offer incentives, that they were paying for it anyway in training costs.  They were training for their competition.

They bought the concept of the employer matching profit sharing plan and they also started a plan that compensated employees for some of their travel costs.  This one sounds pretty simple, yet the important part is that this is what was vexing the customer.  It sold and made them happy even though Deb’s only portion was the profit sharing (401k).  The whole package was the attraction, and the employees embraced it.

What Did Deb Do?

It was pretty simple in the end.  She found something that was problematic, and she helped to fashioned a solution.  That is what a true sales professional does…. solve problems! She didn’t have to do anything earth shattering or magical.  It took time and patience to put together, yet this paid dividends.  She got them to realize that it would be good money to spend.

Her solutions beyond those products that her company could offer, they were designed to move the customer past the problem with simple solutions.  Deb made a good amount of money using tactics like this.

What Should You Do?

Be vigilant as to what problems your customers have.  Listen with the intent of knowing what you might be able to help solve with your product, but also what might help your customer even if you (or your company) are not going to benefit.

If you do the following you can help your customers profit, and you will as well:

Be a visionary and see past what your product does.  Solve problems and secure trust and your customer’s dependence on you.

You cannot do much of this without a good relationship (Deb had one before she knew about the problems).  Make sure that it is solid and realize that if you are not solving the customer’s problems, someone will. If you are spending time with the customer outside the office, you will find it a great tactic to use to get to the heart of many of the problems that the customer might even take for granted if he or she is sitting in the office when you talk.  A relaxing medium such as a restaurant or bar can help.

Be a problem solver and reap the benefits.  Please contact me with any questions

Master the Relationship!