A customer relationship template

Tekst otwarty nr 33/2017

The quality of our communication with our customers is often a factor in their decision to choose our products instead of our competitor’s. Maintaining a positive relationship between the company and the customer remains a significant challenge. We can make this task easier by using a visual relationship template to explore new methods of communication between each party, at all stages of the sales process.

A customer relationship template

Materiał powstał przy współpracy z partnerem:


In sales presentations, sales representatives commonly focus on the company’s solutions, its market experience and successful projects. This comes from the misplaced concep that the customer is sure to be impressed with our achievements, so these achievements should form the core of the dialogue. In reality, most customers are interested in how we can help them to achieve particular business goals, such as finding equipment for a new office, increasing the number of purchase enquiries at the company’s site or acquiring new software to manage the company. To make our sales more effective, 80% of the sales representative’s dialogue with the customer should focus on what the customer needs at that moment. This concept forms the basis of relationship template.

The relationship template relies on the same principles as the tools used for developing business models called the The Business Model Canvas (BMC) which was designed by Alexander Osterwalder1 will help us to plan our sales activities and determine how contact should be managed in order to close the sales process or to maintain a good relationship with the customer.

How do we work with the template?

The template is useful in four specific situations:

  1. While developing a partnership deal
  2. Before and during all contacts with the customer prior to signing an agreement
  3. When looking for ways to improve company-customer relations
  4. In resolving crisis situations

The main objective of this template is to set standards for our company. For example, if we have succeeded in gaining the interest of a director of a clothing franchise company who is still comparing offers, we may use the template to prepare relevant arguments before the first meeting.

Customer field – we determine the customer’s readiness to make a purchase – if the customer seems more committed, then the relationship requires more attention. Motivation field – we write down the customer’s business goals. If we understand them precisely, we can then improve our chances of making a successful sale by enhancing our negotiations. If, during our analysis of the motivation of our customer we come to realise that the customer would need training in how to use our invoicing software, then we should include such a support offer as one of our major sales proposals. Similarly, the customer may request that our agency prepare a TV commercial campaign, while their actual goal refers to the greater commitment of the target group, in which case an e-marketing campaign would be a better solution. The customer will appreciate us more if we offer such alternatives, as it demonstrates that we have clearly understood their needs.

Competition field – we look for ways to make our offer exceptional. This analysis is best performed at the stage of the offer. If we can observe that another company in our sector offers no product samples, then offering such samples increases our chances of acquiring that customer.

Situation field – we determine what the customer’s expectations towards our company are.

Solutions field – we finally decide what needs to be done for our actions to have a positive impact on our relationship with a particular customer.

Tasks field – based on the responses from the previous field, we define tasks for particular team members.

Practical application of the template

If the sales process in our company is especially complex, we may apply the relationship template to verify which potential customer-related activities are the most reasonable. By using the template to predict how a situation will develop, we can also avoid disappointment due to poor decision making. The template may be especially useful for B2B-type sales, where there are multiple decision makers and the negotiations may take months. The following is a good example of the application of the template in a B2B setting.

A company supplies gas heat pumps, and wishes to provide a heating installation for a school in a medium-sized town. Its products are more effective than those of its competitors, which is reflected in the higher prices. At a template session the sales team considers how to persuade the headmaster to invest in a better but more expensive heating system. They determine that the headmaster’s major motivation for the purchase involves support in the installation process and in the maintenance of the system. However, the school is also interested in lowering the costs of energy consumption in the longer term. They persuade a local plumbing system company to agree to cooperate concerning maintenance services if the company receives this order. Furthermore, they prepare a report for the school that calculates the returns on the investment from the system for the next five years based on data from a system installed in a similar building.

Application of the template at the stage of regular cooperation with the customer

In the IT industry, service providers frequently encounter the problem of delays in the customer’s acceptance of particular stages of work. Brainstorming sessions using the template can help to establish the facts and find a suitable solution. For instance, the customer’s coordinator may have insufficient time to manage the software implementation project, because the management board requires regular reports from him. The IT company team may take the initiative, offering to produce these reports and thus reducing the obligations of the coordinator, aiding the faster implementation of the project.

Our sales results depend largely on how well we treat our customers. With the relationship template we can develop a relevant sales strategy that is adapted to the customers’ actual needs. As a result, these preparations help us to achieve more positive relationships between all parties, which in turn is reflected in better and longer lasting business relationships.


Task 1. Key phrases

Read the text carefully and study the vocabulary. Translate the selected key words from the text into English:

wywrzeć na coś wpływ:

istota/sedno czegoś:

nawiązać współpracę:


odnoszący się do tematu:


przekonać kogoś:


burza mózgów:


Task 2. Words in context

Use the words from task 1 in the correct form to complete the sentences below:

If we want to persuade our future business partners to invest in our new project in the Middle East, we have to present a set of ................... facts and arguments in favour of it.

In her brilliant political speeches, Margaret Thatcher has proved repeatedly that she is able to ……………. the hearts of the British people

with her strong and emotional rhetoric.

Nowadays, lucrative business deals may also be sealed in out-of-the-office environments, which tend to be more ................... and conducive to strengthening personal bonds.

I’m afraid that we are overlooking something here, so let’s not rush into anything or jump to any conclusions before having a constructive ................... tomorrow morning.

Every new product or service needs a creative intrapreneur and a team of ................... people who, despite various obstacles, will turn ideas into realities.

Doctors, along with dietitians claim that the kind and the quality of food we eat ................... our health.

Unfortunately, the board is in two minds, since they have ................... data and information to take action at this point.

Ladies and gentleman, I would like to take a chance and announce that within two weeks we are about to ................... with one of the biggest retailers in our business sector.

The marketing department has created a fully customized ................... for corporate presentations, which can be easily modified to suit your varied departmental purposes.

According to the spokesperson, .................... the problem was deeply rooted in the historical past of both nations, which eventually led to a serious international crisis.

Task 3. Comprehension check

Decide whether the sentences below are true (T) or false (F) according to the text:

A customer-driven approach to communication is the key to a successful business cooperation.

Corporate presentations depicting a wide range of company products and services are always welcome during business negotiations.

A relationship template might be helpful in achieving mutual goals between business partners.

A committed sales representative should devote the majority of their time to discussing the customer’s needs.

It is said that a relationship template will be actively used by 80% of board managers.

According to the article, the usage of the template is limited to just four situations described by the author.

There are seven key components of a relationship template which are of major concern to both parties willing to do business together.

A thorough and detailed analysis of current competition will double the chances for long term cooperation.

Only personalized solutions, carefully selected for every individual customer, should be taken into consideration.

The template has profound implications, not only for creating positive business relationships but also for developing a successful sales strategy in a company.

KEY to exercises

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

(to) have an impact on sth



(a) core of sth

win over


(to) strike cooperation



(a) template







have an impact on


(to) win sb over




strike cooperation


(a) brainstorm

a template



the core of


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