How to Build Relationships When You Can’t Shake Hands

By: Mark Frasco
How to Build Relationships When You Can’t Shake Hands

Working from home and social distancing have changed the way professional salespeople build relationships and interact with their customers and prospects. One of the biggest challenges is the difficulty of learning new strategies to build relationships when you can’t shake hands.

While the inability to meet prospects face-to-face poses a temporary roadblock to the professional sales field, there is a proven strategy for continuing to build these relationships without stepping foot outside your home or office. This strategy is discussed in depth in COACT president and founder Mark Frasco’s recent webinar, TIP Now! Here is an overview of his main points so you can start implementing these proven tactics in your own sales process.

A New Way of Thinking

Here are the brutal facts: In 2007 it took a little under 4 touchpoints to connect with a prospect. Today, it takes 8 touches. On average, a sales rep makes 2 touches and then quits.

Here’s another fact that may surprise you:business growth has a lot more to do with process than it does technique. At COACT, we define selling success as the design and implementation of a process that proactively and rhythmically communicates your value propositions to strategic targets. This allows you to build trusting relationships that enable you to learn about buying systems and a prospect’s motivation to buy.

Business Growth Arena

What is the best strategy for a professional salesperson to move their relationship with a prospect into a meaningful place? This space where the prospect and the salesperson can build a relationship is what we call the Business Growth Arena. If you split a table into four parts, where the x-axis describes how much information the seller knows, and the y-axis describes how much information the prospect knows, your goal is to meet in the middle, where the seller and the prospect have full information and agree on the benefits of the seller’s product or service in solving the prospect’s pain points in the market.

Now that you know some of the background theory behind the TIP Now! strategy, let’s dive into the process that will proactively build relationships with your target prospects.

Touch Base

As you prepare to reach out to your high-value targets, think about the timeline and the 8-12 touchpoints per year that you may have to place in order to build a strong relationship with these prospects. With that in mind, the first touchpoint is always a phone call.

  • Get on the phone and talk to someone. Introduce yourself and state the purpose of your call. Keep the tone informal and conversational.
  • Set the proper tone. Be a seller-teacher. Don’t let selling your product or service get in the way of learning what the prospect needs.  
  • Let them know you’re thinking of them.
  • Be sure they know you’re there to help.


When you’re on the phone with a prospect, provide useful information that is tailored to the business environment and pain points that your prospect may be facing in their industry.

  • Share information that could be useful or important to the prospect – think of them.
  • Teach them something they didn’t know.
  • Share something of value – tailor it to them.
  • Learn how their business is doing and continue to ask how they are doing.


After your conversation, how do you plan to follow-up and provide meaning to the prospect? Plan to have a video, a blog post, or other useful information to share with the prospect as a follow-up that is tailored to their needs and your discussion.

  • Always have an action item as a result of the touch.
  • Send, give, or help them with something.
  • Schedule or suggest a scheduled follow up to deliver on the action item.
  • Be a leader, not a needer.

Compete for the Relationship, Now!

Eventually, price will be discussed. Lacking anything else of value, price becomes central to the conversation. Instead, try to build quality relationships with your high-value targets. The strength of your prospect relationships and the solution you provide for your customers is often enough to overcome a marginally higher price.  

  • Every day you show you care, you build higher levels of trust for the future.
  • Compete before you need to compete – compete for the relationship and earn it.
  • Every interaction is a moment of truth.

TIP 20×20

Now that you know the strategy for interacting with your high-value targets, it’s time to make a list of who you will reach out to.

  • Build a list of 20 Top Interested Prospects.
  • Do it again – build a second list of 20 prospects.
  • Week 1 – make 20 TIP calls, completed or voice mail; follow up with a personal email.
  • Week 2 – Do it again with the second list.
  • Repeat week #1, in odd weeks, three, five, seven, etc. Do the same with week #2 in subsequent even weeks.

Today more than ever, learning what your high-value targets are experiencing in their business is critical to you meeting your business growth goals. Learn to meet your prospects where they are, teach them something they didn’t know, tailor the message in a way that is meaningful to them or their business, and move ideas to action.

TIP Now!

Watch the full webinar presentation of COACT’s president and founder, Mark Frasco’s TIP Now!

Watch Now


COACT specializes in relationship development and management systems. Our team of business development and marketing professionals are experts at prospecting, pre-qualifying, and positioning strategic business opportunities for our clients – one quality interaction at a time.

This article was written by:

Mark Frasco
President & Founder
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