Whether you’re in a sales situation or a meet-up bar, knowing how to connect with and engage with the person in front of you is key to success in building relationships, whether in business or personal life. It’s all about being able to influence and to convince with the ideas you present. And in business, the clients or potential ones we face today are better informed, ask more questions and are more cost conscious too. So, as sales people, we need to be smarter, more skilled, more knowledgeable and more effective in the way we communicate. That’s what this post is all about.
Excelling in sales today requires a commitment to a different way of selling, opposite to the one used ten years ago, beyond “consultative selling” that was hot five years ago.
Today, selling is about building a real relationship with your client or potential client. It’s about “engagement,” where you strive for a long-term commitment from your customer/client. You work at encouraging them to become “prosumers;” people who not only will refer you to others; they’ll stay loyal to your brand for a long time. They “friend” you, respond to your email messages; and communicate their needs.
Today, selling is about building a real relationship with your client or potential client. It’s about “engagement,” where you strive for a long-term commitment from your customer/ client. You work at encouraging them to become “prosumers;” people who not only will refer you to others; they’ll stay loyal to your brand for a long time. They “friend” you, respond to your email messages; and communicate their needs.
But to make a “prosumer” out of a consumer, your clients’ interests and desires must be discussed and understood, then completely satisfied, again and again! (Isn’t this just like what happens in our personal lives?) How do you start what you hope will lead to a long-term relationship? Read these 12 communication tips to help you create “prosumers” for long term, lasting business relationships.
These tips aren’t just for sales. They’re important for everything we do, because almost everything in life requires communicating with others. “It isn’t just about the words we say – it’s about the response we get.”
Success often hinges on how well we understand others and how well they understand us. So here are my secrets for getting you through the beginning steps of building engagement:
1. Be an active listener.
- Concentrate – look at the speaker
- Acknowledge – nod or verbally show you’re listening
- Respond – ask pertinent questions
- Empathize – understand and share their feelings.
2. Ask questions to help you understand the person and their interest in what you’re offering. Focus on being more personal than sales-oriented. Avoid asking the “What do you really want in a washing machine” type questions. Try using the “Sounds like you enjoy hiking with your dogs” type questions.
3. Get a conversation going. Forget your ulterior motives and concentrate more on working at “could this be a friendship?”
4. Adjust your style to your audience. Some people want every last detail; others want only the key points. Adjust to their style – they’ll appreciate it, even if they don’t notice it.
5. Check your content. Ask yourself, “Why am I saying (or writing) this?” If your motive isn’t positive or productive, don’t expect a positive or productive response. It’s okay to stop talking – let them get involved and continue the conversation.
6. Maintain eye contact; your body speaks for you. At least half of the way we communicate is through body language. When we speak, our facial and body clues need to match what we’re saying.
7. Simplicity is better. If the person’s eyes with whom you’re speaking are glazing over because he doesn’t “get” your multisyllabic words, you won’t impress him. You’re sure to lose him. Adjust your language and words to your audience.
8. Integrity is everything. Say what you mean and mean what you say. People will sense any hint of insincerity or lack of credibility.
9. Be prepared. Be prepared to summarize your message in 30-60 seconds; well enough to tweet it to anyone.
10. Review your writing. It’s easy to misunderstand what you’ve written. And you’re not always there to translate or explain it. Check tone and content of emails; wait a few hours, then hit send. If in doubt, phone.
11. Practice out loud. Speaking improves with practice. Use a mirror; say your message out loud. And do it in many different ways.
12. Remember: it’s all about rapport, not “selling.” You want a conversation, not a monologue. Establish rapport and chat. And when that potential customer asks YOU about your product, you’ll know it’s been worth all the effort.
The Language Lab Guest Blogger: Cheri Carroll is a franchise consultant and developer who has been used sales and marketing her entire career. Her blogs provide quick, practical marketing ideas and business tips for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Find her at http://Adhelper.biz or on her franchising website: http://www.frandevelop.com.