Have you ever thought about how you come across in most of your customer conversations? There are a number of fascinating books starting with the classic Stephen Covey's ‘7 habits’, Chip and Dan Heath's ‘Made to Stick’ and of course Dale Carnegie 'How to win friends and influence people'. All provide great insight into improving one of the most critical life skills you can have. The art of communication. In a world where the ability to connect seems endless but our clients still say they don't feel connected to the providers they use.
How do we have better and more meaningful conversations with our customers?
There are clearly a number of different types of conversations you can have, such as: negotiations, updates, casual conversations etc… Meaningful conversations to me are;
"Conversations that contribute to moving relationships forward, opening up to the truth of how your clients actually feel and ultimately deepen trust."
I want to bring to your attention those conversations that are day to day and can often pass by you as non-important or non-specific. It's in those moments you can make your client conversations count even more.
"Every time you're in front of your customer, you're in the greatest competitive position to increase your value and deepen trust"
Your competitors would love the opportunities you have to speak to your clients. By putting a value on each conversation you have you can train yourself to engage at a deeper level.
In account and key account management it's very easy to have conversations in relation to business and getting the sales data you need to make a sale. That will only get you so far. If you’re not cashing into the relationship bank between you and your customer. That means dare I say it having conversations that is not about a sales outcome but it's focused on a relational one.
I want to share four conversational practices you can start to implement and invest in every customer conversation you have. I'm confident you'll immediately notice you're having better and more meaningful client conversations.
ONE: Pick up on a positive conversation you never got to finish
This can immediately kick things off on a good note. If you can evoke the moment they felt best with you, you can amplify your likeability and their openness to where the conversation might go next.
TWO: Remember names, places and situations important to them
Remembering is something I can struggle with. It’s now become a practice to work on my long term memory as well as make the best notes possible. There isn’t a stronger connector than remembering someone’s name and those people and places important to them. If worked on you can more easily connect and build your influence by improving your note taking. For work on memory check out Jim Kwik at www.kwiklearning.com
THREE: Follow the thread
Great coaches do this and great sales people too. This is simply about going deeper in a particular area discussed. For example; if your client has mentioned a few times about a challenge at work. Simply ask. Tell me more? or how did you feel about that?. All of a sudden you'll open up a gate of new information and understanding of your client that you never knew before.
FOUR: Pay attention to what’s not said
Our customers are human like you. We all have the ability to pick up on that internal intuition. We may hear the frustrated breath or cautious tone in our client’s voice. Picking up on these subtleties, noting them and sometimes naming them can show real care and consideration. Never underestimate those small moments of empathy and vulnerability.
You've probably practised a lot of this already. Try one today, come back and let me know in the comments.
If you’d like to connect with me and join over 100 account management and key account management professionals - look me up at www.jermaineedwards.com or SIGN UP to the Key Account Hack client insight list with others like you wanting to take their client sales to a new level in 2016 and beyond.