Building a lasting relationship with your customers is beyond important, especially in the age of information. More than ever customers have access to information about your products, yet they still want to buy from people they trust. How important is trust to YOU when you buy?

The more a customer trusts you, the more they’ll be willing to go to bat for you internally, refer you to other customers, and risk investing large amounts of money in your products and services.

How do you build that trust? It is not just about memorizing the customer’s name, alma mater and favorite football team. It goes way beyond that.

Here are three steps to start:

1. Be authentic and show that you care
It all starts with making it your goal to establish a genuine relationship with this human being. Many salespeople (I’ve been guilty of this) go into a meeting with only their goals in mind (I MUST get the next meeting, I MUST get them to take a sample of my product, etc), but if you’re only focused on your agenda the customer can smell that a mile away. They want to know that you are listening to their problems and that you care about solving their pain.

Start by telling yourself that the goal of the meeting is to “make a new friend,” and then be sure to share a personal story. Tell your customer why you got into sales, tell them what you are passionate about, and eventually tell them a story about overcoming struggle in your life. Sound weird? Believe me they will be more interested in your personal stories than your agenda to sell them more or faster.

2. Do what you say you’ll do, and then some
At a fundamental level, trust is built on meeting your commitments. When you agree to an action, be sure to follow up on time and if you cannot then renegotiate the agreement. Simply put, this is about being in integrity. It’s easier said than done, and to build solid trust your level of commitment should be reviewed periodically with your customer. Many salespeople are afraid to ask for feedback, but if you ask, “How am I doing?” then the customer will know you care about doing a good job, and trust will strengthen.

Taking it a step further, you can build trust by showing you care about your customer’s dilemma. Don’t assume your customer knows everything. Educate them by sending information about trends in their market and moves their competitors are making. Then show them how your products can make a difference against those competitors in time-to-market, performance, quality or cost.

What if you can’t meet your customer’s need but you know a competitor who can? Referring them to that competitor is a great way to show you care more than just yourself – you care about them too.

3. Go to bat internally for them
Inevitably you’ll find yourself in a situation where your customer needs a feature or level of support that your company may be hesitant to provide. Many salespeople decide it’s too big of a task to make it happen and give up. They tell the customer ”it can’t be done” and brace for the consequences. Yet often taking up the cause with your company’s leadership can make the difference in getting it done.

I recall a time when it was unpopular internally to meet a customer’s need, but I felt in my gut it was the right thing to do to bring value to that customer. So I faced the heat, endured the uncomfortable internal meetings, and eventually got the customer what they needed. In addition, the remarkable thing is that it turned out better for all parties involved!

As I wrote about in The 5 Qualities of Great Salespeople, this all takes courage, compassion, and confident humility. I encourage you to try these three steps in your interactions with customers and see what happens. Report your findings below so we can all learn from your examples.

Go out there and make a difference today!

Author's Bio: 

For over 15 years, Justin McSharry has worked with organizations in a variety of ways to make an impact. He founded EvoLeadership Academy from his passion for facilitating change in individuals and organizations who are ready to make a bigger impact in their business and with their stakeholders. Justin is a lifelong student of human potential and his multi-dimensional corporate background includes engineering, training and sales in the fast-paced and highly competitive Silicon Valley. He’s engineered multi-million dollar technology deals, facilitated and lead training, all while developing his peers through mentoring and coaching.

Justin brings a calming, realistic, and supportive presence to all of his engagements so that clients feel heard and inspired to take their next developmental leap. He’s happily married and enjoys practicing meditation, making music, and traveling.