by Richard Gallitelli*
This is my second BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas blog post. And as I build my relationship with my editor, I began to think of countless other professionals trying to build relationships in and out of their respective industries. What is the best way to build relationships? There are countless theories, from “underselling and over promising” to “the client is always right,” but relationship building starts with credibility and credibility is wholly based on trust. So how do you earn that trust with our clients in today’s business world? The answer is knowledge.
Knowledge will empower you and, ultimately, your clients and help to forge a strong and lasting business relationship. It will enable you to sell the product and more importantly sell your company’s brand. Christine Knott, a managing director of training consultancy Beyond The Box, had this to say about rapport building and product knowledge: “…product knowledge is a must if you want to proceed to the next stage. Any salesperson who knows their product inside out and back to front is in a position to sell the right solution to the customer… A lack of product knowledge results in missed opportunities.”
Years ago, I began selling clothes at an upscale retail store. I was 20 years old with hair that nearly touched my shoulders. Who in their right mind would expect a 40 year old corporate attorney or stock broker to buy a $200.00 shirt from me? Well, I knew that what was going to separate me from my more experienced co-workers wasn’t just my personality, so I hit the books and learned all the product knowledge I could, right down to every stitch per inch. Soon enough, there were plenty of corporate attorneys and stock brokers I was helping as repeat customers, which enabled me to proceed to the next stage of relationship building and then onto the next stage after that. The relationships even outlasted the hair. Heck, two of these clients eventually were guests at my wedding twelve years later.
“When you have answers your clients trust you.” It may be a simple sentence, but it’s an even simpler concept. It’s also the bridge to credibility. It builds new relationships and strengthens existing ones. It binds you professionally and your clients will come to know you for what you can deliver and seek you out for it. Brand recognition effectively comes through word of mouth more than any other form of communication. And a knowledgeable employee will in turn allow their client to effectively become an unpaid marketing consultant to sell the company’s brand for them. No need to “under promise and over deliver,” because with knowledge in hand you can just deliver.
If knowledge empowered that 20 year old with enough trust and credibility that a few years later he could flex could outfit the entire band “Aerosmith” for the Boston Pops, it even could empower you to tell your clients what your company can do for them, rather than what your competitors can’t do.
In today’s business world, just as business professionals need the news in real time, they also need answers in real time. As a business professional you are going to rely on people you can trust. And what is more trustworthy than a professional who actually knows what they are talking about? Knowledge untangles the lines of communication, sweeps away pretensions, and begins to build a relationship bridge with your clients. A simple concept, as simple as two friends having a conversation over cocktails – after working hours of course!
*Bio: Richard Gallitelli brought a wealth of sales and customer-service experience when he came to BurrellesLuce in 2007. His outstanding performance as a sales associate and personalized shopper for Neiman Marcus (he also has worked for Nordstrom) earned him a nomination by Boston magazine as “Best of Boston” sales associate for high-end retail fashion stores. Rich’s talents also won him praise and a profile in the book, “What Customers Like About You: Adding Emotional Value for Service Excellence and Competitive Advantage,” written by best-selling business author Dr. David Freemantle. Rich majored in English Literature at William Paterson University, and is a published poet and short-story writer. Facebook: BurrellesLuce Twitter: BurrellesLuce LinkedIn: BurrellesLuce