Apr 8, 2020 • Podcast

How do I build customer relationships during a crisis?

How do you build customer relationships if you can’t meet with customers? In this episode, Paul shares three tips to build relationships during this crisis.

Show Notes:  

A salesperson recently asked, “How can I continue to build relationships with my customers during these crazy times? It’s hard to build a relationship if I can’t even meet with them.”

Any good relationship is built upon trust. There is never a wrong time to start doing what is right. It’s important to be transparent with customers.

“Customers want to be hopeful. Find a way to deliver hope.” Whether it’s your message or your action, deliver hope.

“People feel isolated.” Now is the best time to reach out to them. Be there for your customers. Listen to your customers. Connect with your customers.

“Humanize yourself.” Don’t be afraid to introduce your customers to your family via zoom or FaceTime.

Perform acts of consideration and make your customer a hero!


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How do I build customer relationships during a crisis?

(Transcribed from podcast)

Recently, on a webinar, I was talking to a group of salespeople, and one of the questions came up on relationship building, especially during this tough and uncertain time that we face. The specific question was “How do I continue to build customer relationships during these tough, uncertain times?” That’s what we’re going to focus on.

Here are a couple of tips and things to think about especially as it relates to relationship building. Any good relationship with our customers is built on a foundation of trust. We need to make sure that, during these tough and uncertain times, we are as transparent as we can be with our customers. We need to be open; we need to be honest. It means that we need to deliver the good news just as often and just as quickly as we deliver the bad news. We need to be sure we maintain that certain level of trust.

As we’re building relationships with our customers now, they want hope. They want to be hopeful for something…that this coronavirus is going to end soon, the pandemic is going to end. Granted, we have no way of predicting that as salespeople. But what we can do is provide hope; we can share good news with them. Continue to be a merchant of hope.

Next…people feel isolated right now. They’re stuck at their home office. Maybe they’re missing their children or their grandkids. Right now, people do feel a little bit isolated. What we can do as salespeople is bring our customers together. In talking with salespeople lately, I’ve noticed that they’re scheduling virtual happy hours with their customers. They say it’s pretty entertaining. At 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon, they’ll set up a webinar or a Zoom call with the customer and their team and have a virtual happy hour just to talk, to connect, to see each other’s faces. Right now, I think people are craving that. People want that connection. And, it’s interesting. The technology that we once thought was going to isolate us even further is now creating opportunities for people to connect at a much deeper level. I would encourage doing that. Schedule a happy hour with your customers. Schedule a meal with your customers. There is no reason why you can’t have lunch with them. Take them “out” to dinner, whatever it might be.

Along those lines, as you’re starting to connect with your customers virtually using video (i.e. Zoom), it’s important to humanize yourself as the salesperson. Don’t be afraid to introduce your customers to your family (your spouse, your children). They’re going to see a side of you that, maybe, they didn’t see before. I promise you, that’s going to help you connect with them at a deeper level. If you’re single and you don’t have children…hey, there are kids around everywhere these days. All of them are home from school. See if you can borrow your neighbors’ kids or something and bring them into the call. Just introduce them, right? You know, I’m kidding too.

When I think about that and introducing your kids and your spouse to your customers and humanizing your business, I remember early on in my sales career when my wife and I were having our first child. I’d built a pretty good rapport with many of my customers. My dad actually said,

“Paul, have your customers been asking about Nora, having your first child, when Lauren’s due? Have you been talking about that stuff?”

I said, “Oh yeah. My customers all know that we’re having a baby. They’re excited for me.”

Here’s his advice. Here’s what he told me to do. He said, “When you bring Nora home from the hospital, get a picture of her in her baby room, but make sure the room looks empty, the background looks empty, there’s no furniture or anything yet. Take a picture that highlights Nora but also the empty room around her. Use that picture to show your customers and say, ‘Yeah. We’re hoping to fill it up with furniture soon. Just need to make sure I increase sales.”


I said, “Come on, Dad.” Talking about guilt. I guess guilt is an effective persuasion tool.

The point of the story is, don’t be afraid to humanize yourself with your customers right now. If you’re on a conference call or a Zoom call with them, if your kids happen to come in and interrupt, I think what you’re going to notice is that your customers are going to be more accepting of that and they’re going to look at you in a different light.

One final tip. This one is about performing acts of consideration. Even during these tough times that we’re facing, you can do little things to let your customers know that you’re thinking about them. For example, one salesperson in a recent webinar said that they were sending handwritten letters to their customers just letting them know, “Hey, I’m thinking of you during these tough times.”

One customer we do some work with in electrical wholesale sells to a lot of hospitals. What they decided to do was partner up with some of their manufacturers and a few other distributors in the area and buy lunch for the entire hospital one day. Quite an investment, but you can imagine the impact that had on their customer—the way it made them feel. It’s important that we do things like that during these tough times. One customer I did some work with recently started sending care packages to their customers. Care packages that included things like hand sanitizer, toilet paper (kind of as a joke given the run on toilet paper). They also put Netflix gift cards in there for their employees. They sent these out to the key decision makers within this organization. Again, the message is we’re thinking of you.

During these tough times, customers might not remember all the things you do for them, but they’re going to remember how they feel. If you lift them up and let them know “I’m thinking of you,” and if you can find a way to make them look like a hero, and if you can connect with them at a deeper level, you’re going to build a stronger relationship with them.

Make it a big day!

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