There’s nothing your clients will enjoy more than a damn good listening-to. One thing everyone finds hard to come by at work is someone who will just listen to them sounding off about their frustrations. They don’t necessarily want answers or help. They just want someone they can trust to speak with in confidence. Try to make that you.
What is everyone’s favourite topic? Themselves and their interests. So take an interest in your customers and whatever they tell you about their business.
Get to know their business
Go beyond interested. The more you get to know your customer’s business the better you will be able to serve them. Learn what they do, and how they do it. Understand the people and what motivates them. Get to know what their values, priorities and pain points are.
Whever your customer suggests they want to talk about something, put aside time to think it through in advance. Sometimes you’ll be able to offer a perfect solution. Sometimes you’ll simply have a better undertanding of the options.
Look for the chance to customise what you offer, by working together with your client to specify the product or service you’ll offer them. This way it will be theirs as much as yours, and your chances of delivering something of lasting value will increase accordingly.
Think outside the box
Your customer knows what your customer knows. And what they will ask you for will be based on that knowledge. It’s a box. Don’t accept the walls. Climb out and have a good wander around before responding to their request. If you’re worth your salt, you should be able to offer more then they ask for. Not in sales value terms, but in quality of product terms.
Self respect, confidence, and concessions
Your clients will sometimes want you to negotiate. But do so from a position of confidence and self respect. If you give concessions away too easily, you’ll devalue your service, and make your client feel bad they didn’t ask for more. Giving hard-won concessions leaves everyone feeling the final deal is fair.
Keep them informed
Customers trust you when they have confidence in you and they have confidence when they feel in control. Provide the information your clients need to feel in control.
Make it easier to work with you that not to
Be flexible and adapt yourself to your clients priorities. Their world revolves around them. So you need to, too. And always follow up on any promises. Get good at diarising the details, so you keep a reputation for always doing what you say you will do, when you said you’d do it.