Treat Customers as Clients to Develop Profitable, Long-Term Relationships

By John R. Aberle | Relationship Selling

Feb 28
John Aberle’s Infographic for

Although the word in Spanish for customer is the same as for clients, i.e., el cliente or “la clienta,” in English the word “client” refers to a stronger relationship than the word customer. You typically think of clients when you are thinking of lawyers, accountants, and consultants. Thus, if you want to immediately make your small business more upscale, you add a consulting or advisory role, which implies that you are looking out for your clients’ best interest and that you are providing them ideas they can applying to improve their business.

John Aberle’s Infographic of "Consultant Approach to Selling" Collage

People Are More Likely to Listen if You Approach as a Consultant

Moreover, from a sales perspective, the advantage to being perceived as a consultant is that people are more inclined to listen to your proposals from the viewpoint that you have proven to help them improve their businesses. You have shown your interest is in helping them so when you give them a new idea, new product or new service they trust that it is in some way going to benefit their business, not just be another way to put money in your pocket.

Relationship Selling Looks for the Long View

This applies especially to relationship selling. If you are looking for a long-term relationship with your prospect, you want to bring more value to the sale than just your product or your service. In the days of Internet searches, finding the product at the lowest price is a no brainer.

Add One of These to Bring Value

You want to bring ideas that will benefit their business, suggestions that they aren’t going to easily find by doing a Google or Bing search for your product or service. How can they use your product or service to do one of the following?

  • Save money
  • Make money
  • Reduce expenses
  • Save time
  • Improve operations
  • Improve morale

Save Money

Don’t assume that cutting your prices are the main thing they want from you. That they can find on their own using a simple Internet search. They want to know how to use your products and services to reduce their operational expenses or even marketing expenses.

Make Money

How can your products and services enable them to sell more? Can you give them a competitive edge? Maybe the edge you give them isn’t even directly related to your products and services but just a new insight they haven’t heard of before.

For instance, can you bring them a JV partner whereby they both gain because of their relationship?

Reduce Expenses

As a small business or entrepreneur, what insights do you have that will enable your “client” to have lower operational costs? Can you teach them a trick to stretch your product without lowering quality or effectiveness?

Save Time

Think like your client if you want to be perceived as a sales consultant rather than merely as a sales person. On time delivery is always a concern If it is a major issue for them, then any way you can save them time is important.

Saving time is also important because you may be able to help them cut payroll or reduce maintenance and repair – while maintaining or improving their quality and performance.

Improve Operations

Improving operations could mean better quality control. If you reduce defects, you not only improve customer satisfaction and give them a marketing advantage.

Improve Morale

You will improve employee morale through improving operations because most employees really want to do a good job and feel good about themselves and where they work. But you can also improve morale by making their jobs easier and enable them to be faster while maintaining zero or close to zero defects.

So, to find prospects and customers more receptive to your calls, mail, and email, be sure to give them something of value when you contact them. Treat them like clients by understanding their businesses then looking for a way to help them improve their businesses. Time, money, quality and morale are all important to your prospects and customers. Treat them as clients to develop long-term, profitable relationships.

Building your profits through strong relationships,

John's digital signature written with mouse

 John R. Aberle, Aberle Enterprises



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About the Author

I have a strong love for small businesses, especially brick and mortar companies. After an 18-year career in sales and marketing, I started my own service company, which I grew in both sales and profits for the first five years. In my sixth year, the bottom dropped out of the printer market such that it made more sense to sell my assets and return to Southern California. There I went to work for an international small business consulting company. I spent over three years on the road with them helping small businesses to become more profitable and better managed. I then started my own company specializing in sales and marketing consulting, coaching and training. My emphasis is on heart-centered, relationship selling that empowers prospects to make their own choices.