Face to face interaction with a client isn't always an easy feat - here's how to go beyond the sale and make a lasting impact.
by SONJA RAATH
"To connect with potential clients and customers you need to recognise that satisfying their needs is what makes you successful," says Claude Warner, an executive coach. "To find out what a client needs, you must see their perspective. Only then do you use your own product knowledge to recommend an appropriate product."
A few golden rules
"There are different skills that come naturally to some when dealing with clients face to face, but not to others," says Dr Marlet Tromp, a business coach. Here's what to do when connecting with clients or customers:
- Communication: "Get the customer talking, so they use their own words," says Warner. They will feel "heard" and will be more receptive to your product or proposition. Remember that listening is the most important skill when handling clients or customers.
- Build rapport: Dr Tromp says: "Facial expressions, tone of voice and body language, as well as genuinely being interested, are the best ways to strengthen a relationship with your client."
- Expect the unexpected: Always be prepared for the clients you know you are going to meet, as well as the unexpected clients. Know what you can offer, how you can solve problems and what process you follow.
- Make it understandable: Be ready to give examples and explain to a prospective client the processes involved if they do not understand or need more information.
- Never assume anything: This is the quickest way to misinterpret your client and make them feel you aren't the one who can assist.
- Avoid a hard sell: "It costs more to win a new customer than to keep an existing one," says Warner. "Avoid a hard sell to meet your needs."
- Put it in writing: After the first encounter with a client, always put something in writing like a quote, an e-mail, profile or anything attaining to the first meeting.
Things to avoid
When connecting with customers, Dr Tromp suggests that you avoid the following:
- Don't get distracted when dealing with a client face to face.
- Never be judgmental. If a client feels that they have been judged, they won't come back.
- Don't avoid their feelings. When a client is upset about a service, they will want it to be rectified and their emotions acknowledged.
- Never swear or curse in front of a client, it is not acceptable.
- Avoid eating or chewing gum in front of them. This can indicate disrespect for the client and will seem unprofessional.
- Never attack or insult a client personally. There are different strategies to deal with difficult clients but attacking is never okay.