Empowering Peak Performance

Peak Performance Insights

Building Customer Relationships That Last

by Kevin J. Corcoran

What sets good sales people apart?  What makes them perennial leaders who consistently meet and exceed their quotas?   

Learning International, a leading sales and management training company, once interviewed customers of some of the most successful sales people in the country.  There was one constant in their research findings. Top sales people are much better listeners.  By listening they are able to understand the customer’s situation and earn the customer’s trust. 

One customer compared most sales people to alligators --- with little ears, little eyes and great big mouths. From that description we coined the term alligator trap to describe sales people who transform themselves into destructive creatures who make potential customers feel more like prey than partners.

The good news is you can combat your alligator tendencies. One of the most effective ways to do that is  to build strong customer relationships --- the kind of relationships that produce loyal, satisfied customers who generate repeat business and referrals.

A perfect example is a major designer and fabricator of trade show exhibits who changed its entire approach to selling. The company was frustrated by clients increasingly putting trade show decisions on the back burner behind global issues and other budget priorities.   In response, the company changed its sales approach to stress the strategic value of trade shows. At the same time it provided support and services to make the trade show experience more profitable for their customers. 

This company realized its sales people needed to serve as consultants who offer insights and knowledge to help customers differentiate themselves from the competition.  By helping their customers gain competitive advantage, the company added more value to their relationships.   

That’s the secret of building customer relationships that last:

  • Create value for the long term 
  • Develop customized solutions that enhance the customer’s bottom line
  • Show an indepth knowledge of the customer’s needs and how those needs can change
  • Truly understand the pressures your customers are facing

Deliver on these and you will avoid the alligator trap.  You will begin building credibility and integrity with your customers.

More importantly, you will begin building trusted relationships that transcend buying and selling.  In the future, I will offer some approaches and techniques to do just that.

Excerpted from:  The Alligator Trap: How To Sell Without Becoming A Pair Of Shoes.
Kevin J. Corcoran, [Irwin Professional Publishing]