3 Warning Signs Your Customer Relationship Is at Risk (And How to Fix It)

November 1, 2018

Customer Relationships

It’s not what you sell, it’s how you sell.

Relationship-building makes all the difference when it comes to managing and growing your accounts. In fact, it’s predicted that by 2020, customer experience will overtake product and price as the key differentiator in a B2B purchase decision, even for renewals. How can you be sure you’ve developed a strong, lasting rapport with your customers?

Relationship selling is based on gaining trust through development of a detailed, empathetic understanding of the customer. In order to do so, you’ll want to deliver value with each interaction. If your contact can't clearly see the benefit of engaging with you, there's a good chance your relationship is at risk.

Navigating At-Risk Customer Relationships

Today’s buyers prefer interacting with salespeople who listen to their needs and provide them with relevant information. Fifty-seven percent say they prefer to purchase from a salesperson who “doesn’t try to apply pressure or hassle them when following up.” In other words, your customers want more than a sales rep who can create a proposal — they want an advocate who makes their lives easier.

Establishing a genuine connection with each of your customers isn’t impossible, but it certainly takes work. Shifts in the buying committee, languishing relationships, and even changes in your own company can weaken your customer relationships. To maintain your existing relationships without jeopardizing new ones, watch for the following warning signs.

1. Shifts in the Buying Committee

Within a given year, 20% of senior-level decision makers change roles. What happens when a key stakeholder leaves your account, or new people join the team, bringing with them their own vendor preferences? If you count on a single relationship to renew or grow an account, you’re at risk.

In general, it’s advisable to cultivate numerous solid connections to an organization (multi-threading, as we call it). With Advanced Lead/Company Search in Sales Navigator, shifts in personnel won’t send you into a downward spiral. Through this feature you can receive proactive notifications regarding trigger events like promotions, leadership changes, mergers, or a new individual joining the account you’re working.  

2. Languishing Relationships

A simple way to determine whether your customer relationship is at risk is to assess the present situation. Do you hear back from contacts less frequently? Do you feel your conversations dulling? Have your customers expressed frustration with you or your team? Each of these scenarios points to a clear challenge: languishing relationships.

To protect these relationships, we recommend engaging through PointDrive. Offering a convenient and customized landing page for shared content, PointDrive helps you avoid cumbersome email attachments and instead serve your customers relevant, real-time sales updates. Crucially, you can also track their engagement with this content, so you’ll know when the materials you’re sending are going untouched.

3. Changes in Your Own Company

Turnover and other changes in your company can also weaken an existing customer relationship. Stakeholders in your account may be disheartened by departures or frequent changes at their vendor, but forward-thinking sales teams can nip this in the bud.

TeamLink is vital for a successful relationship selling strategy. Use this tool to identify mutual connections and thread multiple reps into important accounts, or develop new connections with ease when a rep is leaving.

If you know someone in your company is going to exit, or is even thinking about making a career move, you can proactively start building relationships with their key contacts and those around them to lessen the potential concern about losing a familiar and valued touchpoint.

Strengthen Your Approach to Relationship Selling

Shifts in buying committees, languishing relationships, or frequent changes in your own company are each warning signs that your customer relationship is at risk. Sales Navigator’s Advanced Lead/Company Search, PointDrive, and TeamLink features make remedying these warning signs easier, helping you take relationship selling from idealistic aspiration to a strategy for achieving sustainable success.

Learn more about how Sales Navigator can help you maintain lasting customer relationships by downloading our guide, Get Closer to Your Customers.