As a business coach, I know first-hand how important it is to connect with clients. Building relationships is key to learning your client or customers’ needs. The goal is to gain more returning customers, referrals and net income in the process.
When you’re a small business owner, you have an advantage when it comes to building customer rapport. The size of your company allows you to reach people at a more personal level than big businesses, which turns into stronger relationships with customers.
To create customer relationships, and keep them strong, you must do all that you can to engage customers. This takes time and skill. During your first meeting or discussion with a potential customer, you need to take time to ‘size them up’. We make assumptions about people within the first 30 to 40 seconds of meeting them. We assess their dress, demeanour, what they say and how they say it. To develop good relationships with potential customers, we need to behave in a way that is approachable and welcoming, making the start of communication as relaxed and easy as possible.
Here are 5 tips to build customer relationships and keep them coming back through effective communication during your first meeting or call.
Your voice (tone, pitch, and speed of delivery) is a big part of building rapport with a customer to make sales. People react instantly to the way in which you use your voice. If you sound bored or hasty you could appear to be unfriendly and your customer could reciprocate by showing a lack of interest and enthusiasm.
We need a mix between depicting energy and enthusiasm without becoming over-powering. Take care – too much enthusiasm on your part (being pushy) can be as negative as if you displayed boredom or lack of interest in the engagement.
There is nothing more annoying than trying to explain a complex problem or have a conversation with a person if they keep interrupting you. Be an active listener; maintain eye contact, reflect statements to show you understand and summarise what’s said. Always wait until the speaker has finished speaking before responding.
Mirror the Customer’s Style of Address
Experienced Sales and Relationship Managers assess the personality style of the potential customer so that they can adjust their own style to suit the customer, thus building rapport more easily and quickly. For example; you may need to be more formal with an elderly person, using Mr. or Mrs. rather than addressing them by their first name. If the customer addresses you in a formal manner, you should mirror the style of language and use the customer’s title and surname when addressing them. Equally; if the customer is informal in demeanour and you continue to use a formal tone, your customer may feel uncomfortable and this could affect your chances of building rapport negatively.
Make it a Friendly and Short Interaction
Use short simple sentences, avoid clichés and company jargon, be natural and show that you are listening actively. Always prompt the customer to share their questions or concerns, allowing them to do most of the talking.
A Smile Goes a Long Way
Whatever you say, when appropriate, say it with a smile. When you smile, your voice raises and lowers its cadence. It is our facial muscles that cause our voice tone to rise and fall. It is the varied tones that make what you are saying more appealing to your customer, and thus they listen more attentively.
In summary, the first meeting may not always result in the prospect of becoming a customer, but it is the first building block in the foundation of creating a loyal customer base. We build on this first step with various interventions and contacts (e-mails, flyers, phone calls etc) over time with the prospect until the prospect becomes a customer.
For more in-depth information on winning customers, contact Len today.