Fast Company

CDW's Keys to a Lasting Relationship

Five tactics to foster closer connections

Update your little black book

To help account managers keep track of dozens of calls a day, CDW developed software to capture details about each call and each customer. Another feature ranks contacts within a company by power and influence to help navigate the network behind IT purchases.

No cheesy pickup lines

Forget selling ice to an Eskimo. You don't earn customers' trust by selling them things they don't need. Better just to ask, "What can I do to make your job easier?" It's a question that never gets old.

Avoid blind dates

CDW interacts with customers primarily over the phone, but its intranet site for customers displays photos of account managers. Next to each picture is a green or red indicator showing who's in the office and who's out.

Don't be afraid to say the three most difficult words

They are, of course, "I don't know." CDW's account managers can't possibly know everything about their 80,000 products. But there's no need to panic or bluff. They call in an expert: one of the manufacturer-certified specialists the company has added in recent years.

It's all about give and take

If a customer shares something personal, such as an unwavering passion for the Cubs, take it as a sign of trust and reciprocate. It makes business less impersonal. Remember CDW founder Michael Krasny's motto: People do business with people they like.

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