Be a true friend
1) Do you know your clients as people?
2) Do you call them just to say hello and catch up?
3) Have you ever gone out to lunch with one of your clients?
If you've ever had to work hard to get an account, or to build business of any kind, the answer should have been yes to all of those questions.
Being a true friend to your clients doesn't mean you have to get too close, but it means that you are there for them when you're needed. It also means you think of them and how they're doing. That you care about how your products are working for them, and you check in with them from time to time. Just like you have to keep in touch with relatives and friends to show you love and appreciate them, a relationship with a client should be nurtured in the same way.
Make them laugh
It's very true that we take ourselves too seriously. I've done it, and I'm sure you have, too. But, come on! There's nothing wrong with making a situation lighter and happier for everyone by having a sense of humor. As long as it's appropriate to the situation, I'm sure your client will appreciate your sense of humor, and that you put a smile on their face. It lets their guard down, too, making it more likely they will want to spend more time with you. More time equals more sales, and more lasting relationships.
Understand them as people
What happens when you really feel like someone understands you? You want to talk to them more. Put yourself in your clients shoes, and work hard to understand what they are truly saying to you. Sometimes, this will make you have to take a step back, and really think about what they're communicating to you. It helps to slow down a bit, and listen to them more than you talk. When you ask them a question, give them plenty of time to answer. It helps to know something about their lifestyle, their family, their job. Get them talking about what matters to them. It should reveal a lot more than just the information they provide. It will give you a better understanding of your client as a person first, and of what they really need from you.
Understand what's valuable to THEM
In our minds, value may be very different than what a client may find valuable. It's pointless to try to define what you find valuable about a product if your client doesn't find it valuable. It's important to find out what your client thinks of as valuable, and it may require a shift in gears on your part. It will make you more effective in your pitch, though. And a lot more likely to have a happy customer. For example, if your client can't be sold on quality, and they only think of price as value, that's when you talk to them about the best price option.
A lot of customers aren't going to listen to your pitch about how great a product is if it goes over what they are willing to spend. You should find out what their spending limit is, and point out the highest quality product to them in that range. They'll be more likely to be willing to spend a little more over their limit if they see you are staying within their range. Prospects and clients alike are mainly concerned about cost first, and then quality. To them, cost is value. I don't think in those terms, but I am not some of my clients, so I work with what is important to them to find them the best solution. And they usually end up going over with me, because they know I care about what's valuable to them.
Sincerity is all about meaning what you're saying, and having your actions meet up with your words. It also makes it a lot easier to maintain an honest relationship, which is what you want. You want your client to feel comfortable, but you also want to be comfortable in helping them to get their needs met. Be genuine. Be true to you. If you feel that something isn't the right fit for them, tell them in a caring way. They will appreciate your honesty, and be more likely to trust you.
Be true to who YOU are
This is probably the scariest one for a lot of people. It's scary to open up and be yourself sometimes, especially when people have let you down in the past. It's scary to think that people may not like, or agree with, what you have to say. They may simply not like YOU. But wouldn't you rather work with people, and work for people, who genuinely like and value you for who you really are? Not so scary after all, is it?
When you let your real personality shine through, it's like a ray of sun through the clouds. People can tell it's real. And it warms the hearts of those around you. What could be better than making people feel happy to be in your presence? I can't really think of anything better, as a basis for business, or for a good life. It's about understanding that who you really are is what makes you special to them.
Thanks for stopping by...CC