Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Ask a Favor

My team often hears me say that everyone is responsible for maintaining customer relationships, and thus sales. We are a mid-sized company, and we take pride in our commitment to involve our project management and field leadership teams in this process. Selling comes more easily to some of us, but I’m a firm believer that, if we are passionate about what we are doing, we all have the ability to close a deal. Still, a few tools to ease into the process can be helpful.

I recently read about a study in sales testing a variation of the ‘foot in the door” technique. The premise is that many prospects are uncomfortable with a sales pitch and can turn on an almost subconscious defense mechanism, but there is a simple way to alleviate their stress. Ask a small favor unrelated to the sale on the front end of the interaction. This lets the person know that their opinion is valued, and increases the likelihood they might feel better about talking business either now or sometime later.

Another approach I use is to ask in one way or another if we could be a fit for them and/or the upcoming project? Transparency and honesty are key traits we try to follow. Maybe if we are not a fit for the project at hand, things will change down the road. Either way, we want to be long-term, customer relationship thinkers.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.