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Building Client Relationships
By Gregory Stebbins
"My customer is ticking me off!" That was the recent comment I heard from a seasoned sales professional. He then described the customer's controlling nature including how he would often interrupt, and want answers in Cliffs Notes version.
The sales person had a style mismatch. He was choosing to be upset by the customer's actions. After letting him unload, I asked him how he's adapting to the customer.
"Adapt?" he asked, puzzled.
I said, "You could just live in your hurt feelings, like you've been doing. Or you could choose to pay closer attention to your customer and work with him the way he wants to be worked with. Specifically, allow this customer to have control over the sales call, give him the information he needs in the timing he needs it, and allow him to cut you off."
Ultimately when you allow your customer to win, you'll end up winning too. Your customers don't necessarily want to be your friends. They want to be your customers because they need your products and services, don't they?
How to Make Sales, Not War
War metaphors such as "It was a hard fought battle" or "We had to punch the proposal through their defenses" are often used to describe the sales process. However, a more elegant and effective sales close approach is to give the customer what he or she wants in the way they want it with a nice ribbon around the package.
When the customer perceives you as the expert who really understands what he or she needs and when you give it to them in the way they recognize as serving their needs, you automatically turn an adversary into an ally. This will turn your customers into lifetime customers.
The Secret to Turning Customers Into Lifetime Customers
Many companies struggle when differentiating their products or services. When you know how to adapt your personal selling style to align with that of the customer, you become the point of differentiation.
This requires you to be very aware of your approach to selling and the customer's approach to buying. For example, high-steadiness behavior types hate change. When a sales person shows up, he or she represents change, and that alone is enough to cause the customer to freeze. High-conscientious types often want detailed facts and figures, delivered with precision.
We're most successful when our approach is identical to the customers. So you may find it beneficial to adapt your approach to theirs, even if it's not your natural style. Salespeople who have learned the secret to adapting profoundly increase their sales because they possess the ability to sell to different kinds of people.
How to Identify Your Style and the Style of Your Customers
I gave the person I was coaching the following explanation so he could identify his style and the styles of his customers:
"I" Behavior - Interacting, inspiring, and influencing. Individuals with this behavior style are often expressive, charming, optimistic, cheerful and enthusiastic.
"S" Behavior - Supporting, stabilizing and steadying. These individuals are usually loyal, calm, patient, cooperative and humble.
"C" Behavior - Conscientious, cautious and correcting. These individuals are often diplomatic, meticulous, private, incisive and exact.
Opening the call:
- Customer behavior type D: Be clear, specific, brief, and to the point.
- Customer behavior type I: Be friendly. Listen for both facts and feelings. Make time for relating and socializing.
- Customer behavior type S: Be genuinely sincere. Create a non-threatening environment for them.
- Customer behavior type C: Ask lots of questions and be patient while they answer in minute detail.
- Customer behavior type D: Briefly highlight their key options and ask for the order assertively.
- Customer behavior type I: Inspire them to action. Keep the close relaxed and friendly.
- Customer behavior type S: Detail how they can take practical action and confirm without pushing or rushing them.
- Customer behavior type C: Create a scheduled approach to implementing action with step-by-step timetables. Point out guarantees.
You can double or even triple your sales by getting a grasp on your customer's behavioral style. It will make a difference in your sales figures and will turn one-time customers into lifetime customers.