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How to get higher margins through stronger relationships

Anyone can submit a bid.

The best salespeople submit and win bids at higher margins.

Why?  Because the prospect knows likes and trusts them.

The ability to command a higher margin is directly proportional to the relationship built by the salesperson.


A funny thing happened last week.  I was helping a client VP build their sales deck, fancy term being “value proposition”.  You know the one—you all have one.  Pretty much they all go like:

  • Who we are (established in 1947 in my grandad’s shed and look where we are today)
  • Our team (we are a third-generation company and we know floors. Usually includes a picture of the office dog to create empathy)
  • Pictures of floors
  • Customer logos


I took a break and bumped into Danny, one of their top salesmen.  I explained I would soon let him have the killer presentation.

He stared blankly.

The penny dropped and I said meekly, “you don’t use presentations do you?”

Danny laughed.  “Never have”. (Top sales guy for 30 years by the way!)

“I just take them out for lunch and they buy from me”!


So simple.  So profound.


Here’s the thing.  People don’t want to be sold but they like to buy.

So what does Danny do that you can do to create a desire for the prospect to buy?

We could go off on a wonderful journey too long for this blog so I’m going to simplify it to the point that it may seem trite.  But stick with me and I’ll give you some actionable ideas.


The answer.  BUILD TRUST.  Here is the TRUST FORMULA:

Trust = Credibility x Intimacy / Perceived Risk


You build credibility by knowing your customer and how you can help.  You are a master of your craft.  All of you reading have bags of cred.

Now intimacy—Danny takes his clients to lunch. He phones them just to chat.  He sends birthday cards.  He always picks up the phone when they call.

You can’t intimately know your client if you don’t have multiple interactions.  Covid is not an excuse.  It’s an opportunity.  We are being starved of relationships so if you reach out you will be welcomed.

If your prospect trusts YOU they will perceive you will manage problems and their risk goes down.


Now hands up all of you who thought this was about salespeople?

There’s more….

One of our client’s best assets is Marsha.  Among other things, she manages billing and collections.  She calls and has trusted relationships with all the Accounts Payable staff in her customers.

You know what?  She gets paid first!


The best Project Managers spend time with their client PM’s.  Problems are solved fast.  Trust is built.  And guess what, disputes about change orders and their payments is far less.

A big opportunity is more work with existing clients.  It always amazes us when there is no structured plan for the CEO to face off with the GC CEO, or Property Management Company President. Please network with these folks!


Relationships matter at all levels.  Be proactive.  Reach out to your counterparts.

One actionable strategy that will work at any level.

  1. Call six of your key customer counterparts
  2. Invite them to a meeting (Zoom is OK) to understand how to help them improve THEIR business
  3. Tell them there will be 15-20 minutes of questions you want to ask on how to strengthen your relationship
  4. Craft four or five questions on how to meet their needs and what they look for in a strategic partner
  5. Record the meeting and/or take copious notes

This exercise will not only tell you how they like to buy but will build credibility and intimacy going forward.


Trust us, this will be invaluable!