A Top 13 List on Getting Clients To Open Up
Breaking communication barriers with prospective and current clients is the first step toward being perceived as a true partner. It’s not something everyone is willing to invest the time to do, and that’s why it’s so important. It will separate you from the masses, placing you in a position to truly help your customers realize opportunity, and make decisions to improve upon their status quo.
Getting a client to open up and talk about real problems vs. the symptoms sets the stage for progress and development of relevant and effective solutions. When the client sees you’re investing resources toward solving their problems, you’ll develop a level of trust that sets you apart from other vendors.
Here is a list of the top ways to get clients and prospects talking about real problems that require real solutions.
Don’t be a salesperson - Don’t start by pushing your agenda. They’re not going to talk until you’ve exhibited that you can actually be a listener. Make it about the client, not about your sales pitch.
Determine benefits & opportunities, and be realistic - Set expectations for the true deliverables. Don’t overpromise. Always underpromise and overdeliver.
Your customer does not want to waste time. So don’t waste it. - Be friendly, but get to business as quickly as possible. Time is money and consider how consumer behavior has changed with communication. For example, texts are quick and effective, because they get to the point.
Don’t exaggerate the truth - Competition is fierce, so if you’re going to make a claim or promise results, make sure you can deliver. A smoke and mirrors approach will eventually catch up with you, as that is a short-term win for you, and a long-term loss for both you and the client.
Show up in person - While this may not always be practical if you’re several hundred miles away, or in a different state, it is always better to have a face-to-face conversation on these issues.
Respect their authority and expertise - So you know about sales, marketing, etc. Great. Don’t be a showboat. You have no idea what the business leader is experiencing on a daily basis. Listen and learn.
Don’t pretend to have all the answers - Clients can sniff this out in a heartbeat. Be honest about the areas in which you have practical experience and where you’ve had success. It’s okay to bring in new ideas, but don’t pretend to know what you don’t.
Don’t be afraid to recommend what is not in your wheelhouse - The client will view you as a true advocate when they realize your only goal is to develop the success of their organization. Do your homework and find solutions outside of your own.
Venue of the meeting matters - Have you ever considered having a meeting in a coffee shop instead of the client’s business location. Being on neutral territory means there are no distractions, and walls tend to come down.
Dress the part - Have the sense to know the appropriate attire for a comfortable meeting. Don’t go too far in one direction or the other. People relate to those who seem genuine.
Understand your audience - Not everyone responds to blunt and honest opinion. Not everyone can envision a creative concept without a visual element. The point is, everyone is different. Tailor your conversation according to cues given by the client.
Be patient - Some people need to be walked through the full experience of features and benefits at their own pace. Be willing to take the time to educate and to understand. It will be a wise investment on your part.
Ask open-ended questions - Questions that require an answer beyond a yes or no will always give you more insight into what you need to know in order to effectively position your value proposition.
Once you’re able to have this type of open dialogue with your client, you’ll see a major shift in the relationship. Sharing confidential information builds trust, and that is the one element you’ll always want to achieve and protect with your clients. At the end of the day, be realistic and understand that not everyone is ready to chase opportunity or solve problems. Be okay with meeting a business owner and realizing there is nothing for you to offer at the current time. Sometimes there is a long-term opportunity that won’t be realized until months, years down the line. The reality is, they’ll remember you because of your honest, no-nonsense approach.
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