In sales it is well-known that a salesman shall seriously consider the relationships with his customers if he wants to sell more and more successfully in long term. What exactly lies behind the expression ‘relationships with the customer’?

Developing and maintaining good relationship with the customers does not mean just being nice to them, serve them with a smile or answer responsively their various questions. Of course, these things are important, but there are many other important attitudes and actions that we should keep in mind.


Harlan Goerger has described the six areas of the good relationship with customers. These six areas are a great starting point in developing a strategy for meeting or calling a potential new customer.

1. Trust 

Trust is the first important element of the good relationship with the customer. If there is no trust between the salesman and the buyer, there will be no business done between them, especially in long term.

Trust is something every merchant shall consider. If you work in sales, ask yourself how credible you look to your customers, how trustworthy your presentation is, while addressing the client’s needs, how trustworthy the questions you have prepared to ask the client are (you are preparing your questions in advance, right?), how trustworthy your answers to the client’s objections are (you are equipped with specific techniques for dealing with objections in a credible way, right?)

Trust is a matter of genuine interest in the client’s problems as well as good preparation. Merchants who are not interested in the client’s problems do not inspire trust. Unprepared merchants do not inspire trust.

Of course, trust is good to be mutual, not one-way. Ideally we will trust our client and he will trust us, our promises, arguments, guarantees. This is a guarantee of good relationships.

2. Respect 

Respect is a "window" to beneficial relationships. Respect means treating the customer as an equal partner in negotiations and sales who has his own needs, which we shall find and meet, not as a man whom we must lie to get his money.

Respect is good to be mutual. Ideally, we will respect the client (we do not have to love him to respect him, right?), and the client will respect us – the merchants. This is a prerequisite for good relationships.


3 . Value

We come to the important for any successful sale concept of ‘value’. Do we succeed to attribute sufficient value to the offer we make to the customer? Does he understand what we are telling him and does he appreciate the value that we give him? Does he value the extras he receives from us, the special offers, small (and large) goodwill gestures? And vice versa – does the price paid by the customer worth our efforts and is it fair for what the customer will receive from us? What else but the price (money) do we get from the customer, which is important and useful to us as merchants (experience, references, advertising, etc.).

Value is an extremely important concept in sales and who understands well the concept, will sell more and more successfully in long term. Value, however, together with the above mentioned two elements - trust and respect shall be mutual, so we know that our relationships with the customer are up to standard.

4. Meaningful conversations

The fourth component of the good relationships with the client is the sincere and open communication with him. Does our communication with the clients allow us to know each other better, to build trust, to better understand the needs and viewpoints? When communicating with our client do we ask enough questions, are we interested in the ways allowing us to add value to our standard offer and to leave the client with the feeling that we are with him, to help him to prosper more and more? Do we actively seek communication with the client?

Open communication between the merchant and the customer is a prerequisite for good relationships between the two parties. And vice versa – if there is no openness in relationships and communication, it is difficult to speak of beneficial relationships.

5. Result oriented conflict 

Speaking of conflict, we mean "constructive" rather than "destructive" (e.g. interpersonal) conflict. In management context, for example, constructive conflict is a confrontation that strengthens and enhances the working results. The lack of constructive conflict means stagnation and marking time.

In the sales context, constructive conflicts mean that the merchant is not afraid to be in confrontation on a point of principle with the client, for example, to protect the quality of his product, his commercial conditions or price. The good relationships between the buyer and salesperson are a result of good mutual understanding, i.e. open communication and trust, which can hardly exist, if we at all costs avoid constructive conflicts (i.e. the clash of different points of view).

Rather than avoiding constructive conflicts with our customers, it is better to learn how to deal appropriately with them. Behaviors of persuasion, argumentation of the value that we give, and dealing with objections are highly needed in such situations. Once we settle the conflict, we will have a better relationship with the client.


6. Accountability

Accountability means that the customer and the merchant stand behind their words and in the event that something goes wrong or undesirable (e.g. poor quality product/service, delay in delivery time, delay in payment periods, etc.) the respective party assumes responsibility and compensates the sufferer with concrete actions.

Accountability is usually something that is governed by a contract, but besides the documentary aspect, the responsibility in sales is related to open communication, respect, value, trust. Irresponsible acts and actions of a merchant indicate that he has just not respected the other party enough, has never considered adding real value and during the whole time he has led not very open and honest communication with his customer. In such cases, it is difficult to speak of good relationships with the client.

In summary 

So, the six elements of the good relationships with the clients are: 




meaningful conversations 

result oriented conflict 


These six elements are a great starting point for any merchant developing a strategy for meeting or calling a potential client, as well as developing a long-term client management program. We just have to keep in mind the six elements and adjust our actions (from the first second to the final moment) in such a way as to leave in our client the feeling that he is offered the maximum value, that he is respected, that we know our job, and that if needed, we could even argue with him to show him the best ways he can benefit from working with us, and that we are responsible for our promises and stand behind our words.


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