DOengage with customers as equals. The client conversation should contain a feeling of mutuality rather than talking down to or being subservient to your clients.
DON'Tattempt an "end run." Bypassing a client or customer contact who is ambivalent or hostile will create an enemy for life. That person will constantly work against you ... from the inside. You don't want that.
DOkeep the conversation mutual. Your goal is to earn your client’s trust by connecting with them, thereby creating a sense of safety. You can’t do that if you’re yakking away.
DON'T pull your punches. Never be afraid to tell clients what they need to know if you feel they might be making a mistake–especially if that mistake involves buying your product.
DObe willing to play “little league.” Even if you know there’s a huge (i.e. big league) opportunity, shove your own agenda aside and focus on whatever game this client wants to play right now.
DON'Tplay negotiation games. That stuff you read in the "How to Negotiate" books? Forget it. You're trying to forge a relationship, not win a zero-sum competition.
DOself-disclose when appropriate. Human beings buy from human beings. Rather than talking purely business, it's OK to occasionally bring up family, hobbies, or whatever will be of real interest to you and your clients.
DON'Tmistake apathy for loyalty. The surest sign that a client is about to switch to another vendor is a lack of enthusiasm for you and your offering.
GEOFFREY JAMES writes "Sales Source on Inc.com," the world's most-read sales-oriented blog. His new book, Business Without the Bullsh*t, will be published in early 2014. To get weekly blog updates, sign up for his free "Insider" newsletter. @Sales_Source