Establishing good rapport with potential customers can sometimes become a challenge, but once you’ve perfected your approach, face-to-face meetings can be your greatest edge over the competition. Master the art of building customer rapport and start seeing your business grow.
Sometimes it’s a challenge finding that perfect balance between being genuine, warm, and personable while still maintaining a sharp sense of business during your face-to-face meetings with potential customers. But once perfected, you’ll be sure you'll have gained a new customer by the end of the meeting, thus expanding your market base.
To do this, you need to prepare by considering the following:
- Be proper, but real
- Know and show interest in your customer
- Meet expectations
- Be flexible
- Be mindful of body language and other linguistic signals
- Seal the deal
Be proper, but real
Cliché, but still true: First impressions last—and for good reason. Physically and mentally prepare before meeting your customer. Proper hygiene is a must, and as self-explanatory as it is important.
A little psyching up doesn’t hurt, too: tell yourself you are credible, you are trustworthy, and you're able to convince your potential customer to also trust in your brand, product, and service—like you do. Read more on landing your first customer.
Throughout the entire face-to-face chat, observe propriety and professionalism. Your aim is to project a warm and genuine personality, ready to listen to what your customer has to say about your product/service.
Yes, sometimes you may even need to smile, even if you don’t want to. Bear in mind that the talk isn’t ultimately about you. It is about your potential customer and how he or she thinks and feels about your brand.
The goal is to win them over. When you acknowledge and understand this fundamental, you exert all efforts in making sure that by the end of your conversation they're already interested—excited even—to purchase/avail your product(s)/service(s).
Know and show interest in your customer
When you are open, warm, and genuine to your customer, they imbibe from you the same positive energy, making the entire conversation feel easy, if not utterly enjoyable.
Since your first and foremost goal in holding the meeting is to create in them an interest in your brand and then convincing them to purchase/avail your product/service, it is only sensible that you show interest in their thoughts and feelings as well, especially on what they think and say about your business pitch. The key is to listen well.
During the meeting, make eye contact that is natural but never forced. Express thoughtfulness and genuine concern about their opinions on things (even if sometimes these things aren’t even remotely related to your business/brand). Use positive language.
Most of the time it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. So choose your words wisely. Highlight the strengths of your product/service. If they have issues about your brand or offerings, focus on addressing said issues and arriving at a mutually beneficial resolution.
Knowing the statistics is another way of letting your customers see and feel your genuine interest in them. Knowing the statistics means you prepare beforehand and find out what they already know about your business pitch—your brand, product(s), and service(s). This will also involve identifying the products they like the most and catch their attention and fancy.
By knowing the statistics, you predict, prepare for, and anticipate possible queries from your potential customer about your business pitch, as well as getting a clear picture of what they really need and want. These will inform you what they will look for in your product(s) and service(s).
By now, you already have a clear understanding of your customer’s wants and needs. The next step is to link these wants and needs to your products and services. Your business pitch must zero in on your brand’s strengths and demonstrate how your products and services effectively answer and fulfill your customer’s requirements, if not exceed them.
When faced with a customer query you’re not fully sure or confident how to respond to—probably because you have insufficient information at present—be honest. Never misrepresent or even attempt to.
Tell them as truthfully as you can that you are yet to gather enough information to provide them with a comprehensive, sufficient response. Be truthful, but also show confidence that you can and will get back to them as soon as you have the answer they need and require.
Bear in mind that meeting your customers’ expectations isn’t just about giving them what they want and need, it’s also about genuinely taking an interest into the things they find important and care about.
When you make them feel you are able to supply them with what they need and want, and then eventually gaining their confidence that you will deliver, you successfully meet your customers’ expectations.
Besides understanding your customer, their wants and needs, the requirements they set for your brand, and where they’re coming from, face-to-face meetings also require you to be flexible all the time. In the course of the conversation, sometimes, your customer might cause you to consider changing some of the specifics of your products/services—like prices, etc.
Be sure to take note of their opinions and why they think the change is necessary. Always be patient, adaptable, and open-minded. This doesn’t mean you will give in to all of your customers’ whims and wishes; it means you care about them and place a high regard on their thoughts and feelings about your brand.
Still, inwardly, maintain a sharp sense of business and only proceed if the change they request also benefits your business objectives. Simply, you only go for it if it’s a win-win agreement.
Be mindful of body language and other non-verbal signals
You’ve been talking to your customer, and now you’re at the part of the conversation where there’s genuine interest in your brand. So far, so good. But never forget body language and other non-verbal cues. Your customer might be saying one thing and then thinking a completely different thing altogether. That’s why it is also important to pay close attention to your customer’s body language and also to your own.
Again, project an image of confidence but never of intimidation. Smile and establish eye contact. Listen, and listen attentively.
And while taking into consideration everything your customer says, also observe how he or she says it. Some of these non-verbal signals may reveal to you things he or she doesn’t want to or yet to share and will help you prepare and predict the consequences that these might cause.
Seal the deal
You successfully conduct a face-to-face meeting with your customer when both of you leave satisfied, if not happy. Always strive for a mutually beneficial exit from the meeting, which means you’re confident you have represented your brand well and excellently, and that your customer is now very interested and excited to purchase/avail your products and services.
Remember, sealing the deal means winning a new customer, and making sure this customer is confident—and then satisfied—with your business pitch.
Once you’ve perfected your own personal approach to ensuring a successful face-to-face meeting with your potential customer, you are now a step further into keeping that customer and enjoying their patronage, as well as growing your market base, and ultimately, expanding your business.
Many good things come from having and maintaining an excellent rapport with your customers, one of these benefits is, of course, is leading the competition and securing success in your industry.