We talk a lot about methods to get your customer to your business, website, engaged on your social media platforms, etc. It seems the one aspect not discussed enough: What do you do when you meet the customer? Like the old saying goes, “you never get a second chance at a first impression.”
A positive introductionis doubly important for you as a small business owner, because you want your potential customer to:
a) Get to trust you
b) Feel comfortable enough to give you as many details as possible
c) Ease concerns about potential obstacles and how you would handle them
d) Be convinced that you can provide him with the best and most personal solution for his unique problem
No matter where you (or your representative) and your customer meet, whether it’s at your premises, their house or at a local café, you need to convince them that you can deliver on what you promised in your ad.
Getting the customer to trust you
Everybody, at one time or another requires the services of a small business owner. It could be a florist, house cleaning service, handyman, electrician, flooring expert, etc. Everyone does their ‘due diligence,’ so to speak. Today, with online site such as ‘Yelp,’ customers can get actual customer reviews of the provider, but of course they will not get an absolute picture until they meet you, the service provider, in person.
The first thing is, don’t sound like a salesperson! Because the first thing the customer will think is, ‘great! Another salesperson…’ Take the time to ask questions, learn about the customers and their needs. Don’t look as if you’re in a hurry.
According to some experts, over 80% of your financial success comes from your ability to connect with customers. Make the customer comfortable enough to give you as many details as possible.
Generally, a customer can be in a ‘defensive mode’ if you begin asking questions that he might perceive as personal, unrelated, or even mistaken it as rude. Your job is to get him realize the questions are entirely relevant. For example, if you’re a plumber and you’re inquiring if there have been any previous problems with the pipes etc. you could add, ‘the reason I’m asking is…’
The upshot is, when the customer realizes you know what you’re talking about, and you understand his problem, you’ve gained his confidence.
Ease concerns about potential obstacles and how you would handle them
At some point, you will probably meet the counter-questions by the customer: how would you do this? Why use X material and not Y material?
This is where you need to demonstrate your expertise and ease their concerns.
Convince the customer that you can provide him with the best, most personal solution for his problem
The customer can bring up a number of situations such as, “a friend of mine had a similar situation and it cost much less” or “it took much less time” to finish the job.
Remember: Every case is different, each customer is different.
The ‘added-value’ factor:
Sometimes, when the customer seems to ‘hem and haw, be on the fence, about whether to accept your offer, you’ll want to have a few incentives up your sleeve to close the deal: Free delivery (if applicable); a discount on his next order; additional warranty, extra, personal customer support by phone, better material at a lower cost, etc. Many times such extra value additions can swing the customer’s decision your way.
And don’t forget to…
The customer is not just looking for practical solutions, he’s looking to vent his frustration at the source of his problems/needs: the car manufacturer, poor plumbing work, wall that needs repainting, etc.
Some customers will ask you a lot of questions; others will ask what will seem to you like ridiculous questions. As they say, patience is a virtue – to all types of customers, even if they can be a bit grating.
Present how you can solve your customer’s problems, and what his life will look like once you’ve completed the service. Avoid badmouthing the competition – it does not gain you anything.
Dress for the job:
“Are you a roofing expert? You don’t look like one.” That’s not a sentence you want to hear! Even if times have changed and people have “cleaned up” their gear, so to speak, people still expect an electrician to look like an electrician, and a mover to look like a mover. If a plumber shows up at your doorstep looking as if he’s never touched a pipe or drain, how much confidence would you have in him? Remember, when you meet a customer for the first time, it can be your only time. Make your opportunity count!
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