This month we're talking about putting heart into your business. WHat a better way than relating to our customers and clients?
Relating to and connecting with your clients is a crucial step in establishing the success of your business. However, with so many different clients, who have so many different needs, it can be hard to do just that! Fortunately, there are some easy ways to relate to each of your clients, in an effort to address their every unique need!
It isn't always enough to create and promote an outstanding product or service. Often, your sales approach matters just as much as what you're selling. The most successful entrepreneurs create a connection with the customer by bringing their own personal touch to the sales process.
People buy from people that they like and can relate to. When business owners overlook the importance of that personal connection, they run the risk of losing the prospect to someone else--usually someone who took the time to create a relationship and help the prospect buy something rather than trying to simply sell to them.
Here are some tips on relating to your customers that can help you develop that special rapport with potential customers:
1. Model your business on the corner store. If you long for the days of shopping at a local business where the owner knew your name and your family, try to emulate that experience. For instance, remember one or two details about your customer and bring them up in conversation. If you know a customer has a daughter finishing up grad school, ask for an update. Everyone likes to feel they're important enough that someone remembers the little things in their life. It's one important way we go past viewing customers as a dollar sign to a human who is appreciated.
2. Ask questions first. Before you launch into a hard sell, take time to probe your prospect. Ask questions that will help your customer explain what he's looking for. Once you know that information, it's much simpler to show how your product or service can satisfy his wants or needs. Probing is fundamental to relationship building, and the more skilled you are at utilizing open and closed ended questions, the stronger the relationship you will be able to create.
3. Court your clients. Selling is a lot like dating in that you have to woo customers and hope they return the attention. Figure that for every 10 people you want to reach out to, three will want to set up appointments to hear more about your product. To get a potential customer to call you back, you have to hook them somehow. Consider emailing them an article you found interesting that's related to their business and then give them time to respond. Whatever you do, be respectful of their busy schedule.
4. Talk about yourself. Another way to make it personal: Reveal something about yourself. Just be sure it's something your customer can relate to and isn't too personal. It's pivotal to connect in a real way. In fact, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, if a salesperson shares a birthday or a birthplace with you, you're more likely to make a purchase from that salesperson and feel good about it.
5. Really listen to the prospect. There's nothing more insulting than feeling that you're being ignored in a conversation. Asking someone a question and truly listening to the response, rather than beginning to formulate a response while the other person is speaking, is so important. In fact, small business owners may have a distinct advantage in connecting with customers because they are in touch with them so often. The smaller the size of your business, the more encounters you'll have and the more opportunities you'll have to listen to your customers.
6. Step away from your computer and smartphone. While it's often much quicker and less stressful to email a potential customer, face-to-face meetings and networking are far more effective in creating meaningful connections. These meetings are still among the best ways businesses can establish relationships with decision makers. Communications should not be limited to email and phone--though both are important follow-up methods.
7. Get social. So often we follow and interact with our friends and products or services we use on social media and sometimes forget to follow our clients, or prospective customers. Here you can glance at their likes and dislikes and are able to support them and help their business. Subscribe to their newsletter, congratulate them on an anniversary in LinkedIn or read their blogs to get a better idea of what that company or individual is doing. In non-tech terms, get social too! If your clients are hosting an event, please try to attend. There is no better way of reaching out to your clients that being a handshake away.
8. Be patient. Like many important things in life, it takes patience to develop lasting customer relationships. Fight the urge to rush the process. Take the time to explain how your product or service will benefit the prospect. Be patient as you go about cultivating this new contact. You never want to make a prospect feel rushed or hustled.
It used to be about product, but increasingly successful sales are about relationships. Technology has catapulted relationship development over product performance because technology has so standardized product quality that just listing attributes – sturdy, reliable, fast, safe – is no longer sufficient. Everything is sturdy, reliable, fast and safe, so successful sales sits with the ability of the sales representative to develop a relationship between the product or service and the consumer. So, to optimize your sales, you must optimize your relationship building.
Get to know your clients on a more personal level. Instead of conversation always being about how they can benefit from your business, get to know their personal interests and hobbies. Ask about their family. These kinds of insights can create a more established personal relationship, leading to a better business relationship!
Stay in their mind throughout the year. Create an email newsletter that you can send out to keep your business in their mind. Instead of “sale-sy” newsletters, keep them about general related topics or events. Reminding them that you’re there when they do need you – all they have to do is schedule an appointment!
Just ask! Ask your clients specifically what your business can do for them. Don’t wait around for their insight – ask ahead of time.
Utilize these tips to ensure that your clients or customers feel like more than just, well, clients and customers!