HOW can you forge unbreakable relationships with your clients for sales and referrals? This is a common question that sales professionals ask me during my course of work. Sales professionals want the easy way to do this but relationship building is a process.

Client relationships are totally different from personal relationships. Be personal yet professional — this is a very important element in building client relationships.

Some sales professionals do not understand this principle and find it difficult to say no to their clients at times when they get too close to them. Such a client relationship is not professional.

In today’s sales environment, many sales professionals have learnt sales techniques like creating small talk and giving a good first impression. These are good tools that can help you to build initial rapport with your potential clients and make them feel comfortable working with you.

However, to close a deal or to maintain a long-term and strong working relationship with your clients, these “Click” strategies are essential:

Celebration

Celebrating the success of your clients is very important. I am not referring to only the success of their business, I am referring to their personal success too. Your clients will be happy if you take note of important events in their lives, such as receiving business awards, the birth of their child or even their birthdays.

These may seem trivial but are essential in relationship-building. If you want your client to remember you above your competitors, do something different and be creative. You will leave a strong impression of yourself that will help to forge a strong relationship.

Listening

Many salesmen talk about sales and have hidden agendas when they meet a client. They are only concerned about what they can sell to their clients. However, listening is an important communication skill in a sales process.

As sales professionals, you need to understand your clients’ needs and concerns before selling. Some sales professionals are so keen to sell that they forget that their clients’ interests should be their top priority.

Be quick to listen and slow to speak. This is a strategy that most sales professionals need to learn and follow. Your clients want to know that you care before they decide to buy anything from you.

Integrity

Integrity is your brand. Many sales professionals want their clients to refer business to them. But do not ask for referrals; when you have integrity and are able to deliver good products, results and customer service, your clients will naturally refer business to you.

Focus on delivering excellent service as a sales professional; your clients will recognise your work and they will be your centre of influence (COI) that will help you to increase your sales. In this case, they may also become your best referrals.

Consistency

You need to be consistent in your dealings with people. Build relationships with not only those who can give you business but with anyone that you meet.

I know of some sales professionals who are only interested in building relationships with decision makers. However, sometimes before you can reach the decision makers, you need to go through the gatekeepers, which is in this context are the secretaries or buyers. Be genuine in your relationship-building. Your clients can feel your sincerity.

Knowledge

You must acquire sufficient knowledge of your products and your competitors’ products. In order for you to sell more effectively, you need to be more knowledgeable than the other salespersons.

Be it retail, manufacturing or any other industry, how much you know about your own products will affect your sales production directly.

As a sales professional, to stay competitive, you need to study and understand your products and that of your competitors, and the trends of the market you are in.

Relationship-building with your clients will take time. When you apply the “Click” strategies above, they will help you to forge strong relationships with your clients and prospects surely and steadily.

Article by Richard Gavriel, the author of “Success: Sales, Entrepreneurship and Work”. He is a relationship building and sales expert with Richard Gavriel Speaker Management. To contact him, e-mail Richard@RichardGavriel.com