Persuasion begins by creating a connection.
The door-to-door religious types did start off on the right foot. They took the time to connect with me, learn more about who I am, what I’m all about and what makes me tick. But unlike most visits, this one turned south when their priorities were more important than mine.
In business (particularly in direct sales) you don’t need to be a product evangelist. In fact, you should be a customer evangelist (look for an upcoming article on that topic). You DO want your customers to be evangelizing (creating referrals) on your behalf.
It begins by connecting with your customer. For as often as I say the most important product your company has to offer is you, I also say your job is not to “sell stuff” – it’s to help people make affirmative buying decisions (hopefully with you) that will improve their lives in some way. This is where it all begins.
Sadly, all too often, this is also where it all ends.
Here are some quick tips to build stronger relationships with your customers so that you can confidently ask for the business AND have them singing your praises to their network of contacts as well.
1. STOP watching the clock. Yes, schedules are important, but I stopped wearing watches eons ago. It is rude to check your watch periodically during a meeting or event, not to mention shows a complete lack of respect for the person sharing with you. If you are being paid by the hour to serve your clients there are techniques an word choices you can use to keep your meetings brief. Otherwise, the onus is on YOU to make sure you’re providing what the customer need on the customer’s schedule.
Your best friend doesn’t stop in to see you, and then check her watch every 15 minutes until she has to leave. If she did, she wouldn’t be your best friend for much longer. In a relationship based business, the time you spend listening, is equally, if not more important than the time you spend sharing your message and offerings with your prospect. Be sure you can make the time BEFORE you take the time.
2. Put YOUR agenda on the side burner. You are in business to create an income, for sure, but also to make a difference. Marketing maven and author, Seth Godin, says that we as humans want to be part of something greater than ourselves because it is fulfilling. No doubt that most people in direct sales feel the same way.
That means that not only is our agenda important, but that of our prospect, too. When people know we care, only then do they care what we know. Your mission (to earn an income) is just as important as theirs. Side burner, not back burner.
3. Be proactive in your approach. Don’t just call on a client when you need something. That’s akin to being that “fair weather friend” that only hangs out with you when you’ve got money to burn. Puh-lease! Developing a relationship means understanding your clients wants and needs outside the business transaction. Jeffrey Gitomer likes to send children’s books as gifts to clients with kids or grandkids. It’s a thoughtful and memorable touch that goes beyond the transaction and builds a relationship.
If it sounds more like making friends than building a business, you’ve got the right idea. Relationships – business or otherwise – take effort. That effort needs to be focused on the person, not the outcome. When you apply these tips to your business, your relationships will deepen and your pocketbook will expand. Clients will be singing your praises like a choir of angels. And YOU will be heralded amongst the masses as their go-to expert (and friend) in your market.
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