Customer relationships are, and should be, a top concern of your sales team. If your clients and prospects don’t feel that your business values them, they’ll simply move on to another company. However, there must be a separation between relationship building and always agreeing with what’s important to the customer. Focusing only on reinforcing the customer’s perspectives can keep your sales team from providing real value to clients and prospects. The definition of a customer relationship is in a state of flux, as is the role of the salesperson. By focusing on outdated notions, your sales team could be missing opportunities to provide clients with exceptional value—the kind of value that leads to return business. If your sales team is missing targets, you may need to re-examine what customer importance means to your team.
There was a time when a building customer relationship meant putting the customer on a pedestal. A salesperson would listen to their problems, and then propose solutions that fit the customer’s understanding of the problem. No effort was made to challenge a customer’s ideas—the goal was simply to sell them a ready-made solution for a preconceived problem. That model doesn’t work anymore. Customers are more educated and informed than ever before, and have more resources at hand to work with. In short, if all your sales team provides is solutions, the customer simply doesn’t need them. Solutions can be identified with a simple internet search, and purchased at a discount online.