Ask any salesperson what drives their success and you’ll get the same answer: relationships. Yes, popular CRM platforms like Salesforce and Zoho have revolutionized how sales teams track, nurture and convert leads. LinkedIn makes keeping track of contacts a breeze. Email automation platforms make it easier to send the right message to the right person at the right time. But great technology can only take you so far. At the end of the day, it’s not about the technology– it’s about how you use this technology to build long-term, mutually beneficial relationships.

Here in Houston, relationships are the foundation for everything a successful sale team does. These relationships are especially important during slower economic times when every dollar counts. During the recent oil and gas downturn, tight budgets left no room for error when it came to purchasing decisions. The salespeople who continued to be successful were the individuals who had strong, established relationships built on trust, integrity and mutual respect. Their clients felt confident purchasing products or services, knowing that these sales teams wouldn’t lead them astray.

Strong relationships take time to build. In a world where it is easier to electronically communicate with thousands of social media contacts, actually knowing someone offline is what matters. Here’s how to build strong relationships for long-term sales success:

  1. Earn trust through actions, not words.
    It’s easy to promise your clients or customers whatever they need, but can you actually deliver? Work collaboratively with customers and earn their trust by delivering on your promises. It is far better to acknowledge upfront that a solution or service isn’t possible at the requested price point than to suggest otherwise. You may not get the initial sale, but you’ll earn the client’s trust and respect– and they’ll come back to you for future needs.
  2. Own your mistakes and focus on the solution.
    Mistakes happen– are you smart about fixing them? When things do go wrong, immediately be transparent with the client. You don’t have to dive into all the details, but don’t hide anything important, either. The truth always surfaces! Take responsibility for what happened and focus on how you’ll fix the problem. Make a lasting positive impression by going above and beyond to make it right, rather than being the salesperson who disappeared when things got messy.
  3. Be in it for the long haul, not the quick sale.
    The marketplace is interconnected and the relationships you form early in your career will continue to impact your professional success for decades to come. I’ve been active in the Houston market for more nearly three decades and can attest that nearly every sales job is tangentially related to oil and gas, from that machinery to transportation to downstream chemical plants. Establishing a strong rapport with a contact at one company can pay off for years to come as that contact earns promotions, transfers jobs, or refers you to other colleagues.


As a Senior Executive Search Consultant specializing in sales recruitment, I know first-hand just how valuable personal relationships are here in Houston, whether you’re closing a deal or interviewing for a new sales position. In a down economy, strong relationships will open doors for sales opportunities and professional advancement that aren’t available to others.


For more information on Houston sales opportunities in oil and gas, onshore, offshore, pipeline technical services, industrial, chemical and OEM, contact me at