Selling is about developing trust that evolves into long-term personal relationships.  I find it most difficult to get past the initial connection with someone and enter the “trust phase,” as this process takes time and my life is often over booked. In addition, my products generally represent only a very small part of the overall cost of my customers’ operations, making me a fairly insignificant player. This makes building solid relationships that much harder.

Given these challenges, when you get an opportunity to develop trust you must take full advantage of it. Here are a couple of ideas on how to capitalize on your customers’ unique interests.

Interests as an opportunity

— I was on a sales call where our team was working on building a better relationship with a customer, in this case the company’s owner. In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he enjoyed listening to business books. When I returned to the office, I went right to Amazon and sent him one of my favorite business titles.

That gesture was a big hit. The owner passed the book around to all his managers. Prior to this, he had told us that he would not intervene in his managers’ buying decisions. However, the distribution of the audiobook to his purchasing agent allowed us to open up a conversation with him about pricing. Subsequently, this enabled us to match some competitive bids.

Make occasions special

— Identifying and acting on unique opportunities is effective with customers both old and new. As an example, a regular customer once mentioned to me that they were having a company-wide luncheon. I noted the date and time, and then personally delivered a couple of cheesecakes. There wasn’t much competitive pressure in that account following my contribution (Cheesecake ROI)!

Remember to spend time asking questions and listening intently so that you can uncover your customers’ unique interests. This can save you hours of unproductive sales time.  Questions should come naturally in your conversations, and not feel forced or appear to be an invasion of privacy. Look for what makes each of your customers unique, and then strategize ways to meet their particular needs.

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