heartThe first rule in sales? Know your customer.

How well do you know your clients? I don’t just mean how and what they buy. I mean the people who sign on the dotted lines.

Developing meaningful relationships with our customers is not just a nice way to work, nor is it an outdated sales concept. It is (and has always been) a business imperative.

Why? CSO Insights offers four great reasons in their white paper, “The Anatomy of a World-Class Sales Organization”:

Sales organizations that optimize their sales processes for engaging and working with clients significantly outsell their less adept competitors, achieving sales performance edges such as:  

  • 37% improvement in overall revenue plan attainment
  • 29% increase in percentage of sales reps making quota
  • 22% increase in win rates of forecast deals
  • 24% decrease in sales force turnover

Just as importantly, current customers are the No. 1 source of quality referrals.

With all this evidence, there’s just no denying that building and nurturing real client relationships is the ultimate competitive advantage for salespeople.

So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and talk to your clients. Take them to lunch and get to know them as people, not just walking commissions. Check in on a regular basis. Send them useful information. Share best practices. Or just pick up the damn phone and call for no other reason than to reconnect. You’ll be glad you did.

For more on the link between relationships and referral success, check out the latest from No More Cold Calling:

Understanding Your Customers Is Not a Crap Shoot

As salespeople, it’s our job to ensure customers get the correct solutions for their business challenges—so that they keep buying from us and referring us to other great clients. But in order to serve our clients properly, we must actually get to know them—not just their demographics and how they spend money online, but what they actually want and need from us. (Read “Understanding Your Customers Is Not a Crap Shoot.”)

Mobilizing the Corner Office—What CEOs Want From You

Buyers do business with you, not with your company and not with technology. Whether you’re a new hire or a veteran sales rep, they trust you more than the business. If you want to get meetings at the level that counts, then you must prove you’re trustworthy. In this guest post from sales expert Linda Richardson, she shares her thoughts on why CEOs talk to us, let alone buy from us. (Read “Mobilizing the Corner Office—What CEOs Want From You.”)

Lies You Tell Gatekeepers

Gatekeepers can smell phoniness a mile away. Think you’re getting away with cold calling and pretending you’re best buddies with your prospect? Newsflash: You’re not fooling anybody. When you have a referral, you’ll never have to use duplicitous tactics to bypass the gatekeeper. Instead, that secretary or assistant will welcome your call. No lies necessary. (Read “Lies You Tell Gatekeepers.”)

Message to Management: Why Your Sales Reps Can’t Close

Why won’t your salespeople pick up the phone and actually talk to prospects? Many of them simply don’t know how to have business conversations. They’re far more comfortable hiding behind technology. Teaching your sales team how to conduct business conversations takes building skills, lots and lots of practice, joint calling, feedback, coaching, and reinforcement.  (Read “Message to Management: Why Your Sales Reps Can’t Close.”)

Are You Too Hard to Reach?

To sell successfully, we must make it easy for customers to buy. This, of course, means making it easy for them to reach us. Yet, in our email-obsessed world, many professionals don’t even provide clients with their most important piece of contact information—a phone number. In this guest post, Brian Hansford, director of client services for Heinz Marketing, explains why he won’t buy from vendors who make him look up their phone numbers. (Read “Are You Too Hard to Reach?”)  

7 Overused Words You Should Avoid

It has been said that cursing shows a lack of vocabulary. Maybe so, but I find buzzwords to be even more uncreative and obnoxious. Just because a celebrity or well-known business leader coins a new phrase, doesn’t mean you have to use it. Why would you want to sound just like everyone else anyway? Success in selling is all about relationships, which means your personality is an asset. So be unique. Or at the very least, don’t be boring. Here are seven words I’m tired of hearing. (Read “7 Overused Words You Should Avoid.”)

Attention Seasoned Sales Pros

For salespeople with at least 10 years of experience, I offer an exclusive opportunity twice a year for semi-private training and coaching though my Referral Selling Masters Program.

This is an intensive, five-month course for a select group of up to 10 B2B sales pros who commit to setting referral goals and achieving double-digit returns on their referral income.

Click here to find out how this program could change the trajectory of your career. Or pick up the phone and call me. I’ll be happy to help you determine if this is the right fit for you or someone on your sales team.