Building Client Relationships
Building Client Relationships

When it comes to building long-term relationships with clients, it’s very similar to building long-term friendships. In kindergarten, children are encouraged to make new friends by talking with others, inviting them to play and being nice to them. They often hear these words: “To have a friend, you have to be a friend.” In many business situations, clients often become more than clients. They become friends — not necessarily the kind you would invite to non-business gatherings, but people you truly care about and who enjoy hearing from you.

There is a feature in a local area newspaper where readers are invited to review their favorite non-franchise restaurant. The articles are wonderful publicity for the restaurants. One of the key elements I see repeated over and over again is that patrons know the names of the owners, hosts and/or servers. And, many of the restaurant workers know something about them as well. They know if the guests prefer coffee or tea with breakfast. They may even remember their favorite meal, asking if they want “the usual.”

Put yourself in the seats of those guests for a moment. How would it make you feel to have your favorite dishes automatically placed before you without having to explain your preferences? It would make you feel at home or as if you’re at the home of a good friend — someone who knows you well and wants you to have what you want. They want you to be happy. That type of response is the ideal when it comes to serving your clients’ needs, and it can be created no matter what your product or service is.

You may think you’re in the business of selling automotive services or maintenance, but you’re not. You are in the people business, and learning to make people feel important and cared about will help you make both the initial sale and long-term sales over the course of time.

Introduce yourself to each client and give your name. Try giving them your formal name, then what they should call you. For example: “My name is Thomas Johnson. But, please call me Tom.” This statement does two things: 1) It presents you professionally. And 2) You help them relax with telling them to use of your less formal name.

If you have an unusual name or one that’s challenging to pronounce, consider going by something less formal and easier to remember (and say) for your clients’ sake. Do nothing that could make them feel uncomfortable. An example of this might be: “My name is Balthazar Otis Buckworth, but please just call me by my initials, B.O.B. Everyone does.”

When your clients give you their names, use them the way they’re given. Never shorten “Phillip” to “Phil” without consent. However, if you hear his spouse call him “Phil” you might ask permission to do the same. You want to get on the most congenial level possible with everyone you meet.

Use your clients’ names in conversation during the sales process. Inquire about the use of the vehicle. Does the client have young children or a teenage driver? If so, safety will be an important issue to discuss with them. Do they have a cabin in the woods where some off-road driving is involved? Or, do they travel for business and need “highway” tires? All of these answers help you lead them to the best choice for them. Keeping a record of the answers will help you build long-term relationships.

If you know Bob and Sally expressed interest in a particular feature on their last vehicle, plan to contact them when you see an upgrade in it, or see it included on a different type of vehicle. Bob might like trucks. Sally might like sports cars. But they both may enjoy a built-in GPS system. If it wasn’t available on their last vehicle, the time to contact them is when you learn that it is now.

With some clients, the focus isn’t on the vehicle. It’s on the options. When I was in real estate many people bought homes because of the corner lot or the school district or the swimming pool. Those features were more important than the layout of the home itself.

Always take good notes when you’re with clients. Enter the information into your client database. That information is used to make contacts and to start conversations with clients after the initial sale.

People like to do business with people who are like them, who demonstrate that they care about them beyond making the sale and who keep them in mind when something new that might be of interest to them arises. That type of treatment makes them feel important. They come to rely on businesses and salespeople they know they can trust to have their needs and interests at heart.

About the author

Tom Hopkins


Tom Hopkins is world renowned for teaching practical, how-to selling strategies. His training increases competence and builds confidence when it comes to qualifying, presenting and closing sales. Or, Click Here to download a free e-book titled, “6 Practical Tips for Making More Automotive Sales.”

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