I recently learned why its important to connect with customers. While shopping with my human, we found an awesome rawhide chew. It smelled great and was just my size – huge! I started to drool immediately at the thought of getting my teeth on that beefy bone, and my human seemed just as anxious to give it to me. But, much to my disappointment, we didn’t buy it.
Are You Failing to Connect with Customers?
Why did such a “sure thing” not result in a purchase? Was the price too high? No. Was the quality poor? No.
The shop owner failed to make a connection with us. First, he made us wait while he finished stocking a shelf, and then when we asked where the rawhide chew was made, he had no clue and dismissed our concern. We were left with a bad taste in our mouths (definitely not beef) and a lot of excess drool, so we took our business elsewhere.
You might have the best product or service in your industry, but if your sales approach is off, you’re probably losing potential customers. In fact, studies show that the most successful entrepreneurs connect with customers by bringing their own personal touch to the sales process (Entrepreneur).
“People buy from people that they like and can relate to,” says Adrian Miller, a sales trainer based in Port Washington, N.Y. “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.”1
Make more meaningful connections with these five easy tips:
1. Get to Know Your Customers, Personally
It sounds basic, right? But, you’d be surprised at how many business owners and/or sales reps don’t take the time to get to know their customers on a personal level and make the extra effort to develop rapport. Everyone likes to feel special and important enough that someone will remember details about their life. For instance, simply asking how a customer’s son is doing in college or mentioning how incredibly handsome their dog is, can make a person feel appreciated – and more than just a dollar sign. It’s also a good idea to share some personal information about yourself (within reason) to help find some common ground.
2. Understand Your Customers’ Needs
Before launching into your sales pitch, take the time to ask questions about your customers’ business and what is most important to them. Instead of saying “Our product is so great,” show him or her how your product can help the customer be successful or how it will solve their problem. By using open-ended questions and really listening, you’ll not only be better able to position your product or service as the “solution,” you’ll also build a stronger bond.
3. Nurture Your Prospects
The first time I saw my tiny friend, Charlie (see photo), I was a bit over zealous. I bounded over, ready to play, and scared the poor little guy half to death. (Sometimes I forget about my size.) I should have taken things more slowly and tried getting down to his level. Approaching new customers takes a similar approach. Thankfully, today’s automated marketing tools can help you understand what prospects are interested in and then send them information that’s tailored to those interests, at each stage in the buying process. This is a highly-effective (non-scary) way to build a relationship. It’s also respectful, because you’re not bombarding them with information they don’t want or need. (To learn more about nurturing clients, check out “5 Ways Drip Campaigns Can Boost Your Bottom Line.”)
4. Put Down the Electronics
There are two parts to this advice: 1) When you’re meeting with a customer, give them the courtesy of your full attention. Personally, I hate when my human colleagues find their computers and phones more interesting than playing with me! It’s just rude. 2) In this age of electronics, it’s quicker and easier to send an email or text, but don’t underestimate the power of personal interaction. Face-to-face meetings are still the best way to make meaningful connections. Dogs inherently get this. Of course, not every interaction can be done in person, but try to connect face-to-face for key meetings or just to touch base now and then.
5. Be Patient
Sure, we live in a “hurry up” world, where we rush to get from point A to point B in the shortest amount of time (people don’t understand the importance of wandering and sniffing around). However, it takes patience to develop long-lasting relationships. Customers that feel pressured or rushed may become distrustful and are less likely to make a purchase. Take the time to nurture your prospects (see #3) and follow-up with as much information as they need to make an informed decision. It took me a long time to get Charlie the Chihuahua to trust me (and for me to remember that he is not a chew toy), but now we’re buddies.
These tips may seem straightforward, but plenty of studies show that, overall, most customers are disappointed by interactions with sales representatives in all industries. These are lost opportunities as 81% of satisfied customers are more likely to do business with you again if they have a positive experience.2 It’s also more likely they will recommend you to their network. In fact, small businesses say that 85% of their sales come from word of mouth!2
I bet that disinterested shop owner is bummed that he lost such a big sale (that rawhide was massive). And if we spread the word, he might lose a lot more opportunities. That’s a high price to pay for not taking the time to make a positive connection. And to think, I would have been happy with a nice pat on the head.
1”How to Make a Personal Connection with Customers,” by Lambeth Hochwald, Entreprenuer.
2”The Importance of Customer Satisfaction,” Nicereply, 2017.