In this day and age, everyone sells. From the receptionist who answers the telephone to the accounting clerk who deals with a client’s billing inquiry, everyone sells. It is vitally important for each person to understand a few of the important relationship skills used by top professionals.

“What is the most critical thing to remember about developing and maintaining high quality business relationships?” Many responses come to mind about the most critical element of developing and maintaining high quality business relationships. These include trust, sincerity, high ethics, dependability, fairness, honesty and consistency are all excellent answers. And all of these are absolutely critical to maintaining good relationships in industry.

We believe that business is personal. Business is about people. Computers do not conduct business – people do. Developing strong relationships starts with understanding how to communicate with different types of people to build your credibility and trust. People prefer to do business with people they like.

Here are eight fundamentals that will help you build lasting business relationships.

1. Build Your Credibility & Trust Clients like to do business with people they believe are credible and with whom they trust. Did you know that credibility follows credential in the dictionary? This is ironic because an effective way of presenting yourself as a credible person is to talk about your credentials. However, most people feel uneasy about “tooting their horn” because we’ve all learned not to brag. This is usually true, except when it comes to establishing your personal credibility when meeting new people, tooting you own horn is necessary. If you have 10 years of industry experience, let your clients and prospects know. If you’ve been a top salesperson or a member of an important account support team, find ways to share these honors. Do your clients and prospects know about your credentials?

2. Getting on Common Ground Building trust with your prospects will require more than providing your credentials. You need to do the things that earn their trust. First, you need to communicate with them on the same wavelength. The secret to getting on the same wavelength is to find some common ground with your prospect. You need to pace them. To do this you need to consider how they think, act, speak, and feel, before meaningful communications begin. Listen carefully to what your customer or prospect says and what they imply. You need to observe how people act and what’s going on in their surroundings. You need to be alert and to think clearly. Here are some things that will assist you in establishing rapport and trust with a new person:

  • Be friendly and professional.
  • Be observant and try to make a sincere compliment about them or their company.
  • Listen actively to the words they say, and their tone of voice.
  • Speak their language (vocabulary, speech characteristics).
  • Be empathetic to their feelings, mood, beliefs and personal opinions.
  • Show a sincere interest in them as a person.

3. Listen Actively Hearing is the physical ability to accept and transmit sound waves from the eardrum to the brain. Listening is the ability to put meaning into the transmission. “Active listening” is letting the sender know that you are listening to them. Active listening goes beyond hearing words and messages. Listen to what the person is not saying as well as to what he or she is saying. Focus intently and listen to the messages conveyed behind and between words. Ways to show that you are listening actively:

  • Use their name
  • Take notes
  • Maintain good eye contact
  • Paraphrase the essence of what they say
  • Provide feedback

4. Recognize their Preferred Communication Style Recognizing and adapting to the client’s behavioral styles (we use the DISC model of behavior) helps you know their preferred communication style which creates an agreeable atmosphere. High D’s want to know the bottom line while High C’s need to know all the details. Share the High I’s excitement in times of victory and offer High S’ encouragement in times of difficulty.

5. Recognize their Right to an Opinion – Even if You Disagree Choose your words wisely. Words can build or destroy trust. Compliment the person for the wisdom and insights they’ve shared with you. This shows appreciation and encourages further dialogs with the individual. You do not have to share your true feelings. If you consider in advance the impact of your words, you will create a positive impact on your relationships.

6. Help Them Be Successful Business relationships require ongoing cooperative action to survive and thrive. Help your client be successful and he or she will view you as a valuable resource. Business relationships require the flexibility to meet changing schedules and new project goals. Cooperative actions build trusting alliances. They are part of the process that create strong, enduring relationships.

7. Honesty, Fairness and Consistency = Integrity Integrity will usually top the list of the things a client values most in a business relationship. You are honest with yourself and others when you do what you said you’d do. Being fair and consistent in your client dealings creates mutual trust and respect.

8. Accentuate the Positive Look for and accentuate the positive qualities in others. Validate them by expressing your appreciation for their contributions. If you let someone know that they are valuable and special, they will not forget you. Showing gratitude and encouragement by words and actions will strengthen the bonds of any relationship.


Len D’Innocenzo and Jack Cullen are co-founders of Corporate Sales Coaches, LLC. Each has over twenty years experience as sales and customer service management executives. They are featured speakers, course developers and facilitators, and authors of two books. For more information, contact 215-493-2465 or 678-341-9051 or visit our website at

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