Take out a blank piece of paper and write down all the things your customer values when doing business with you. What does that list look like? How many items did you come up with? What do you notice about this list? Now identify the top 3 items. Are you sure these are the Top 3? To make sure, take this list to your best customers and show it to them and ask them if you got it right.

What was on your list……..

When I do this exercise with a group of sales people we will usually fill up 3 or 4 flip chart pages with answers. Some of the things that are listed are: value, trust, knowledge, service, capabilities, national coverage, brand, technology, honesty, delivery, industry status etc. The qualities and characteristics that get listed are mostly the same for any group of sales people. Yet why is it that very few companies really understand what these “words” mean? What does “value” mean? How many companies do you trust? What makes a customer trust a sales rep – trust you?

More times than not companies spend great amounts of money and time on crafting a “value statement” or “value proposition”. In doing this exercise they do not talk with their customer and ask them what “value” means to them. We assume we know.

When I am teaching CPSA’s Strategic Account Management program, I talk about the Value Pyramid. As you move up the value pyramid and get to know your customer, competition and pricing begin to fall away as key issues. Why is that? You are developing and creating a relationship with your customer where they trust and value your company and you. That relationship and moving up the value pyramid takes time. It can take years, in large accounts, and yet we believe if we can craft that perfect value proposition we can take that message out to customers and instantly gain the trust that takes time – sometimes years - to build.

What are you doing to build Relationships with your customer?

We live in this McDonald’s like society that wants everything now and as fast as you can possibly deliver it. Companies change sales reps frequently, sales reps move around every few years and customer contacts change regularly. So how do you build relationships with your customers?

You show up everyday to make a difference with your customers and your company. You are yourself. I like to leave a flip chart up in my class that asks: “Who are You?” A great relationship with customers and your office is based on you being yourself. It is based on you not trying to be somebody else – because your customer, your peers and your support staff all can see you are faking it – and they don’t trust you.

When you have worked with a customer for a few years you get to know the team of people that use your products or services and you interact and build that relationship. It does not come from a value statement – it comes from you interacting with the customer and your contacts. What happens when an order gets written? (For some companies it is nothing, how many of you have to go back to the office to sell a deal with your own company, once a customer has been sold) What happens when there is an issue that needs to be dealt with? What happens when there is conflict? Each one of these experiences helps the customer to create an impression of you and your company. They begin to get into a relationship with you. If they trust you, then the relationship strengthens and grows. If they don’t trust you then the relationship stays at a very superficial level.

If you are comfortable with yourself and who you are, you have knowledge of your business and you are wanting to be “of service” to your customer, you can build relationships very quickly with people. In fact you can create that relationship in five minutes. You don’t need a value proposition to get a customer to trust you. That comfort comes from being able to talk with your customer and ask the key questions, get into a “great” conversation” about their business and them personally and provide insight and knowledge that is important for them that they can use in their business.

What are your relationships with your customer like………

How are your relationships with your customers? Are you a valued partner or just another sales rep? Are you being yourself and comfortable with asking questions and getting to “know” your prospects and customers? What are the Top 3 things that each of your customers values in dealing with you and your organization? Spend some time in the next few weeks and make that list and talk with your customers – you might find that your relationship becomes stronger.

Sayers Says………

What are the things your customer values? How are your relationships with your customers and your organization? Are you being yourself or faking it? What are the questions you are asking of prospects and clients in your interaction with them? How are you going to get your customer the value they are looking for?

Author's Bio: 

Bill Sayers speaks, coaches, leads education sessions and provides management consulting services to a variety of companies. Bill has been praised for his leadership, common-sense approach and ability to inspire sales people to new levels of success. His easy manner and strong public-speaking skills make him an engaging facilitator. Bill connects with senior executives and sales professionals alike, as he shares his real-life experiences and provides the appropriate tools and strategies for success in today’s business world.

Bill’s book Funnels & Forecasts – The Great Game of Sales is available on Amazon. Sayers Says: "This second edition was important for me. It has allowed me to have my book and its message sent out to a global audience. The feedback from readers has been that the book is an easy read and that there are lots of common sense advice and tools to help sales people be more successful in their sales game. Funnels and Forecasts - The Great Game of Sales will help sales people in their quest to improve their game."

He has been a professor at George Brown College teaching Personal Selling Skills to the Sports and Event Marketing Graduate Program, and is on the faculty of Canadian Professional Sales Association and Canadian Management Centre.

To receive our free “How are you Playing The Game” Scorecard and a 45 minute one-on-one session with Bill Sayers, email: info@TheSayersGroup.com or visit: http://www.TheSayersGroup.com .