Top five tips on winning customers 

Here, business speaker and author Rob Yeung discusses the keys to gaining business from potential clients.

Every business needs new, profitable customers to survive let alone thrive. From my consultancy work training sales people in pitching skills, here are five top tips to give you the best shot of winning over new customers and building profitable, long-term relationships.

1. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes

Remember that a meeting shouldn’t really be about what you want to sell to a customer. Successful salespeople ensure that they put their customers at the heart of everything. Your aim is to help a customer to solve their problem, and in the process gain a sale.

Turn up ten minutes before any meeting and spend a few minutes imagining that you are that customer. What might they be thinking? How are they feeling? Excited about an opportunity, dejected by the market or anxious about a recent crisis? Think about their priorities, their pressures and what would help to make their life easier. Writing down what’s going through that specific customer’s mind will allow you to focus on how best to conduct the meeting.

2. Start every sales meeting or pitch with some questions

Whether you are having an informal conversation with a couple of people or doing a formal, stand-up presentation to an audience, try to ask at least a couple of questions early on. For a start, that encourages your customers to feel more involved in the meeting straight away.

But asking questions early on allows you to find something out about your customers’ needs as well as their experience with your product or service. That way you can tailor your pitch to emphasise features and benefits that are most relevant to them. Or, if you discover that they really hate something, you can de-emphasise other aspects or even focus on a different product instead.

3. Demonstrate that you have heard your customer

When we are pitching or trying to persuade others, we often want to talk and tell them about all of the great features we have and the benefits that they provide to customers. But what customers really want is to feel that they have been heard.

So when a customer speaks, make sure that you demonstrate you have taken on board what has been said. Don’t just nod and move on. Take notes. And then paraphrase back what a customer says using phrases such as ‘So you say that…’ and ‘Just to ensure that I understand you clearly, you’re saying that…’ Show that you are not just listening but hanging on a customer’s every word and concern and you start to build a deep rapport.

4. Use stories rather than (or in support of) statistics

Even if you have data about the percentage of people who don’t have health insurance or the numbers of people at risk of data breaches, don’t focus too heavily on statistics. People have only been using statistics as a means of persuasion for less than a hundred years. In contrast, our ancestors have likely been telling each other stories for thousands or even tens of thousands of years.

So talk about a specific customer you’ve dealt with that you helped. Or talk about a particular individual you know who didn’t have your services in place. Describe their situation briefly and then focus on how your product really helped them – or how not having the product led to their downfall. The more specific you can get the better.

5. Match your body language to the tone of the meeting

I’m a psychologist by training so trust me when I say that your body language and tone of voice can communicate volumes about you without you even saying a word. So think about the tone of the meeting.

Is it appropriate to be upbeat about something that’s fun or exciting? Use your hands to gesture more. Think about matching the tone of your voice as well as your pacing to the nature of the meeting. Should you be speaking relatively quickly and using lots of vocal variation – changes in volume and pitch, for example?

Or would it be more appropriate to be serious – perhaps if you’re focusing on a weighty problem or difficult situation? In that case, you might want to move your hands less frequently or more deliberately. And speak more slowly and carefully too.

Onwards and upwards

Bear in mind that understanding the principles in this article isn’t enough. You have to put them into practice in order to get the benefit. But if you do follow the five top tips, you will better connect with customers and clients. And that will allow you to build longstanding, profitable relationships.

Dr Rob Yeung is the author of How To Win: The Argument, the Pitch, the Job, the Race, out now from Capstone Publishing.

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