In today’s marketplace, relationship selling continues to be the best way to increase sales. After all, client engagement levels are the steps within relationship selling.


Your phone rings and a potential customer asks you if he or she should register for a workshop conducted by one of your competitors. Would you:

  • Encourage them to attend?
  • Make a negative comment about the competitor?
  • Feel insulted they had not taken advantage of your services, but have the audacity to ask you about the competition?
  • Believe you are being used for your expertise without any compensation?
  • Smile and know they view you as someone who is credible and unique?

This has happened to me numerous times.

My response is to:

  • Smile over the phone!
  • State it is not my style to knock the competition.
  • Ask why they are considering attending the workshop

I then share my thoughts specific to what we discussed.

However, in many cases, it is easier to react negatively to such a situation instead of being proactive.

In the book by John Butler, “Odyssey: The Business of Consulting,” he detailed the following.

Four levels of client engagement:

  • Good Soldier – product-oriented, seen as a vendor and a commodity
  • Competent Warrior – process-oriented, seen as a staff member and a commodity
  • Trusted Adviser – solutions-oriented, seen as a peer with a customized solution
  • Master Practitioner – partnership-oriented, seen as the “guru” and as unique

Even though this book is about consulting, it can easily be transferred if you sell products.

In today’s marketplace, relationship selling continues to be the best way to increase sales. After all, client engagement levels are the steps within relationship selling.

As you continue to work with each customer, you build your relationship and may move into the next level of being more than a friend because you are starting to bring additional value to the relationship.

Your competencies are starting to shine.

Time progresses and your clients start calling you about other issues beyond what you are able to help them.

Your level of trust has been firmly established.

Finally, you are viewed as the guru, unique by not only your customers but others within your marketplace or sphere of influence.

As you progress upward through these levels of client engagement, no matter if you sell products or services, you will also see your income increase as well.

Remember, sales combines marketing and selling skills.

No matter what you call it, relationship selling, consultative selling, or SPIN selling, the end result is to increase sales by building term partnerships with your customers where both parties believe it is a WIN-WIN.

About the author

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith has over 25 years in sales. Her true joy is selling and…

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