"It's All About the Relationship" - Five Tactics to Becoming a Better Leader

This past week I had conversations with two extraordinary leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. Both are sales reps and both are very successful for an important reason - their vision of leadership. For some leaders in sales their focus is about sharing the benefits and advantages of their product or service. They can’t wait to espouse the amazing attributes of what they are selling and jump in right away with that conversation. But these two pharmaceutical sales reps looked at their mission very differently.

“What a great team of sales reps we have!” one said. “I feel so lucky to have a manager who cares and sees my value.”

“When I approach doctors I never talk business or drugs at first. I ask them how things are going in both their personal and professional worlds”, said another.

“When I bump into my customers at the gym I would never intrude on their personal time. Believe me, the last thing they want to do is talk shop when they are in their personal zone.”

“By the time I speak to them about the pharmaceutical products, I have developed a strong connection with them. And believe me, they are not writing prescriptions because of the items I am selling. They do it because of my relationship with them.”


Have you thought about the way you influence and work with others? Do you spend time initially cultivating a meaningful connection before asking for someone’s help or selling a service or product?

Have you tried these five tactics to build deeper relationships with team members and customers?


Just like the two leaders I mentioned, it is your number one mission to establish a deeper connection with someone before earning their sale or trust. Although we might feel there isn’t enough time to develop a spark, the truth is that if we begin our conversations with, “Let me tell you all about why you need my service or product”, we are doomed. Stop yourself and say: “It’s all about the relationship”!


The best strategy to developing customer relationships is having a curiosity about what brings them happiness or joy or frustration. Think of team members and customers as complete human beings. “It’s all about the relationship.”

  • Find out where they spend time outside of work
  • Discover what may be their favorite sports or teams
  • Identify some foods you may have in common
  • Try to understand the type of people they are and what drives them

    Once we get to know our colleagues and customers better, help them define their challenges more clearly. Empower them to see that although they may be experiencing hardships, you can offer some helpful solutions. If we have built the relationship and a level of trust, they will be more likely to listen to our guidance and ideas. “It’s all about the relationship.”



    One of the pharmaceutical sales reps is a veteran and develops connections with his customers through his storytelling of his tour duties. When he shares this most personal part of his life, the doctors form deeper relationships with him. He displays his authentic self and they begin to as well. “It’s all about the relationship.”


    Not all of our co-workers or customers see challenges through our same lens. That means, we need to keep a wider view of how to approach solutions. If we try to resolve an issue for another that merely works for us, it may miss the mark for our customer. Meet them wherever they are. If a team member is looking to enrich their job, ask them to be part of projects that will help them grow. If a customer is focused on a particular issue, focus on resolving that challenge and don’t suggest alternative concerns. Listen and take action to real concerns. “It’s all about the relationship.”