Sales is a relationship business. You need to be able to engage with people and develop trust. When getting to know about your clients’ businesses, you in turn get to know them as individuals. You become more comfortable around them, and you may connect with them on social media or chat about things unrelated to work.

Sometimes, clients become friends. While there’s nothing wrong with being genuine and friendly, it’s important to remember that building strong relationships in sales doesn’t always mean becoming close personal friends with clients. In fact, Jeb Blount says it isn’t friendship that strong relationships are built on — it’s trust. People want to work with someone they can trust, and it’s this trust that helps forge long-lasting sales relationships.

If you could use a little clarity on what it means to build strong relationships in sales, read on. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we discuss Blount’s thoughts on why you don’t always need to be friends with clients.

It’s about a strong sales relationship. To become a great salesperson, you need to foster and build strong relationships with your prospects and clients, Blount says. Your goal isn’t to add to your personal circle of friends. Plus, not everyone is interested in building a friendship. They may just want to keep things transactional. There’s a big difference between developing a relationship and being pleasant, friendly and service driven, Blount says. One requires no extra time on your part, while one can potentially become all time consuming.

Strong sales relationships aren’t always personal. Are you personal friends with your dry cleaner or your insurance agent? Probably not. Rather than assuming your prospects want a close relationship, Blount suggest asking them. You could say something like, “What are your expectations of the person you are going to buy from?” or “If you were in my shoes, what would I want to know about you that would help earn your business?”

You can be personable and friendly without being friends. Think about your life outside of work. You have deep connections with some people, while you’re simply acquaintances with others. It’s the same with sales relationships. Blount says that when you develop a sales relationship with someone, they might rely on you for promotional products, but they wouldn’t necessarily ask you to watch their kids or help you move. And that’s okay because neither of you are looking for that kind of relationship.

When you’re looking to develop solid sales relationships, strive to build trust with your prospects and clients. A friendship may follow, but it’s not a requirement for establishing meaningful relationships that benefit both you and your clients.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jeb Blount is the CEO of Sales Gravy. He is a keynote speaker, executive advisor, consultant and world-class trainer who helps companies improve their sales fast.