Every business decision, including every purchase, comes with some level of risk. As sales professionals, we will cultivate more sales and better relationships if we are diligent in minimizing the risk to our customers in buying from us. Here are key practices to give our customers greater reassurance:

Understand ALL the customer's needs. Use the Exploratory Process to uncover the customer's personal, as well as functional, motivations for purchasing your product or service. Be sure your solution, including needs analysis, terms, service and delivery, speak to those personal concerns.

Prevent surprises. Outcomes that fall short of expectations undermine the trust between customer and sales professional, but these situations also cause embarrassment for the customer within their own organization. Be up front about potential delays in delivery. Give customers insight into what could go wrong, and your contingency plan in the event challenges arise.

Define your customer's role in the outcome. The customer is a key variable in the deployment of any solution, so give your customer a role in the successful outcome. Clearly articulate for customers their part in ensuring a smooth and successful implementation. What are the key deadlines for them? What turnaround is needed when you request input or clarification? What internal resources/support are needed from the customer organization for implementation? Share examples of "best" and "worst" implementations and the customer role in each.

Implementing these practices will cultivate a collaborative relationship with your customers, with all parties invested equally and participating actively in a successful outcome.