In my last post, I shared the 10 key selling mistakes which can make sales people appear pushy, but coming across as pushy is not the only mistake that sales people need to avoid.
Since we know that people are more likely to buy from those they like, we can conclude that the success of a sales person rests, in part, on their likability and that means avoiding the kind of behaviours that others might find irritating, or perhaps even rude.
The Customer and Sales Person relationship, as with any other relationship, can start to fall apart when one party becomes irritated, or even angry, with the other. More often than not, it’s the small things that cause these niggles. I’ve outlined below 7, seemingly basic, tips to help you nurture your relationships with your customers.
7 Tips for making the Customer/Sales Person Relationship work
- Go Prepared – Do your homework before you call or visit a prospect or customer. If it’s a first visit, make sure you’ve really done your research and you know as much as you can about the company and your prospect. If you’ve spoken/visited previously, refresh your memory by going over your notes from previous conversations. In so doing, you’re demonstrating to the prospect/customer that you care and are interested in them and their company. Continue this in the meeting by listening and asking questions.
- Be on time – I was talking with a client recently who manages his organisation’s new sales recruits and he told me he had one new starter who he’d discovered was always leaving home at the same time in the morning, regardless of what time, or where, their first appointment was. Of course, this had resulted in this particular sales person constantly arriving late for appointments, something that was not going unnoticed by their customers. Whilst this is an extreme example, good time-keeping is pivotal to the sales person’s success. For example, a busy buyer is unlikely to agree to an appointment with a sales person who consistently shows up 15 minutes late. Of course, sometimes, it can’t be helped, but don’t make a habit of it and, if you are going to be late, make sure let your customer/prospect know.
- Dress to impress – How you dress for a customer appointment will be largely influenced by the industry you work in, the industries you sell into and your own organisation’s culture but, there’s certainly no excuse for turning up to a customer meeting looking scruffy. Like it or not, we all make instant judgements based on first impressions, so how you present yourself will impact the opinion your customer/prospect forms of you.
- Don’t waste time talking about yourself – Imagine you’re on a first date and your date spends the first 20 minutes telling you all about themselves, without asking you a single question. Not only will this give you the impression they’re not even interested in learning more about you, but you’re unlikely to go on a second date. Leave the spiel about your company ’til the end of the meeting or, even better, leave it out altogether. You can always put that kind of information at the end of a quote, or advise your customer it’s available, should they be interested. Your customer wants to talk about the things that are relevant and of interest to them, not how many employees you have now compared to 20 years ago!
- Don’t check your phone during a meeting – Well this one should be obvious, but we live in a world where people are constantly on their phones and, for many, they do this habitually, without it even crossing their mind as to whether it’s appropriate for that particular time/place. Your customer/prospect deserves your full attention, so give it to them.
- Pay attention to grammar – Pay close attention to your spelling and grammar in written communications. Spelling/grammar mistakes can make an email/quote appear rushed, which sends a message that you didn’t care too much about it and therefore, the customer. Of course, these things come more easily to some than others, but make sure you’re utilising the tools available to help with this and ALWAYS read back through what you’ve written before sending.
- Do what you said you would do, when you said you would – This is critical for building trust and credibility. Ensure you follow up on the commitments you’ve made to your customer/prospect. If you can’t meet the deadline, even when it’s beyond your personal control, just let your customer know in advance. They’re far more likely to be understanding if you’ve kept them informed, rather than rocking up late with a bunch of excuses, (regardless of how justified those excuses are).
Think of your relationships with your customers as being akin to a ‘honeymoon period’, in which you carefully consider everything you do/say and put the needs of your customer before your own. The key to forging lasting relationships is to continue to observe these behaviours as your relationship strengthens, rather than letting them slip. It’s easy to ‘get comfortable’ in a relationship and relax your behaviours, but this can give your customer the impression you’re getting lazy, or don’t care anymore. So, maintain that ‘honeymoon period’ and your relationships should go from strength to strength.