How to Build Long-Term Relationships with Clients

Two opposing goals seem to be the result of a successful sale – making the sale while also hoping to build a long-term relationship with the client. 98% of the top sales professionals say that building relationships is the most important part of generating new business.

A survey conducted by LinkedIn showed that approximately 80% of sales are made between the 5th to 12th contact in your network. However, it is also something that most salespeople are known to struggle with. So what are some techniques that can be employed to help with building better relationships without compromising the sale?

1. The Effort – Outcome Matrix

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Using the effort-outcome matrix gives a quick understanding on how to initiate, build, manage and finally optimize building relationships. Opportunities can be initiated by networking within the community – attending business conferences, asking for referrals and volunteering. These opportunities can be converted in to clients by building their trust. Delivering on commitments in a timely fashion, and demonstrating professionalism and trustworthiness with additionally go a long way in building a connection.

A focus on customer service by offering solutions, asking open ended questions and discovering your consumer’s motivation for buying your product, will help manage the relationship that has been established. Finally, optimizing the relationship can be done by following up, reaching out and problem solving any queries on time.

2. Remembering Names

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“A person’s name is to him or her, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”
– Dale Carnegie.

The ability to absorb and retain knowledge, especially names, is very important as it makes your clients feel valued. Some helpful tips would be to be pay attention and remain concentrated throughout, while repeating names out loud as soon as it is heard, and using it during the conversation is useful too. A more fun alternative could also be to get some kind of visual fix. (Matt has thick hair like a mat.) These are not things you are ever expected to share with the person so be as creative as you must be to remember visually.

3. Successful Small Talk

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Small talk can be daunting, and small talk with an ulterior motive can be even more formidable. If you find yourself alone, look for others who look similarly disengaged or join a group with an odd number of people. Avoid sarcasm and conversation topics that are too controversial or emotional. A good rule of thumb would be to imagine you as the host/hostess. Politely end the conversation in a manner that states your delight at talking with the person and expresses your desire to not take any more of their time.

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4. Five Factors of a Good Handshake

A study from Beckman Institute stated that “a handshake preceding social interaction enhanced the positive impact of approach and diminished the negative impact of avoidance behavior on the evaluation of social interaction.” Business networking, especially in the western world, rarely operates without a solid handshake. Five factors can be followed for good handshake etiquette.

Degree of Firmness

Your grip should be firm, rather than weak. However, you don’t want your handshake to be painful to the other person. Consideration is appreciated. Be especially considerate if you are shaking hands with someone in a receiving line who has many more hands to shake, someone who is wearing a lot of rings, or someone who is obviously elderly and perhaps fragile.

Dryness of Hand

We all prefer to shake a hand that is dry. While you typically don’t want to obviously dry your hands before greeting someone, this is perfectly acceptable if you have been holding a cold glass. Similarly, if you are at the buffet table and have been eating, it is expected that you would wipe your hand on your napkin before extending it to be shaken.

Depth of Grip

A handshake is palm to palm. Generally you will place your hand so that the web between your thumb and forefinger meets the web of the other person’s hand, briefly. Your hand remains perpendicular. If your palm is facing up, this may be construed as a sign of submissiveness. Similarly, if your palm is on top, it can be seen as a sign of aggressiveness.

Duration of Grip

The perfect handshake is about 3 seconds. You can gently pump once or twice but this is not necessary. Then pull back your hand, even if you are still talking.

Different cultures have different rules and styles for handshakes, and make sure that you know the rules before you meet!

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5. Eye Contact

While this will vary from culture to culture, in North America we expect the person shaking our hand to make eye contact with us.


6. Maximizing your Network Impact

It will be impossible to lock down every opportunity or to meet every single person you want to meet at events. It is therefore important to maximize how you network by limiting the time you spend with people you know already and talking to others. Preparing beforehand what you have to say, exchanging business cards whenever appropriate and using time in transit effectively are all key to enhancing your network impact.

7. Top Listening Tips

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Talking until your consumer’s ears ache is also not exactly ideal when networking. After all, you are trying to build a relationship with the individual and his company. Make an active decision to listen by not interrupting and giving them your undivided attention. Keep your eyes and ears focused on the speaker, and don’t forget to ask questions to communicate that you are genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Make sure you’re all set to build better relationships without compromising the sale, with more tips about getting the balance right.

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