We can learn a lot about the way we communicate from our pets. Have you ever noticed, that your dog or cat can get their message across and yet they can't speak at all. Cats especially, are very good at various type of nonverbal communication and have the ability to convey, some say control, 🙂 who they are "communicating" with.
Sammy here is our one year old Shih Tzu puppy. Very smart (and cheeky) dog is this one. He can communicate his feelings and emotions very easily. Sometimes with the tilt of a head, or the dropping of the body you can pickup weather he is trying to comprehend something or just feeling guilty. Gestures are an integral type of nonverbal communication.
What does this have to do with my business you ask?
Well before a word is spoken, a lot of communication has already take place between you and your customer. Posture, gestures, facial expression and eyes are all types of nonverbal communication that have already started talking about you. Communicating even before you have said a word. And your customer unconsciously has started interpreting it. This alone can sometimes make or break the sale or contract.
What do you mean break the sale or contract?
Well, basically first impressions count. Humans by nature are very judgmental in character. Within 30 seconds, 9 basic things are determined by a person. Psychologists call it "thin slicing." We will not go into that here but you can Google for more information about it if you want.
The main things the customer will quickly make assumptions about you on are
- Weather your trustworthy
- Weather you look like you know your stuff
- Weather you are professional
- Weather you would take advantage of them
Making the customer feel comfortable
Even before you speak, learn to make the customer feel comfortable. This is an art in it's self.
These points will help start things off
- Dress like you mean business
- Dress for the business and for the customers you are dealing with.
- A 3 piece suit does not fit every occasion. Remember the song by ZZ Top, "Never go crazy about a sharp dressed man". Dress appropriately for the audience.
- Your customer needs to feel at ease straight away. From the customer point of view, if it looks like me, feels like me, then it must be me. You will make a connection with them immediately.
- Stand up straight, don't slouch.
- Make bold, wide movements, this conveys confidence.
- Make eye contact.
- This transmits a feeling of trustworthiness. Trust can not be under estimated.
- Sometimes, this alone can determine return visits and future sales with this customer.
- As Cornelius a Lapide said, "The eyes are the window to the sole".
- Give a nice, warm smile.
- This transmits sincerity, which in turns enhances trust.
- The customer will feel at easy with you immediately.
- Shaking hands. Make it firm but not overly strong.
- Open with a sincere, friendly greeting.
- Make sure the tone of your voice is friendly. You may have had a bad day but don't pass it on to the customer as well.
- If you know the customer, greet them by their name to personalize the meeting.
- Ask useful opening questions to determine what they require.
- Understand what the customer wants.
- Listen and don't make assumptions just to make a sale.
- Give your undivided attention.
- Worrying about selling a product or not paying attention to the customer will lead the customer to assume your not interested in trying to help or solve their problem for them.
- Putting the customer "onhold" to answer a colleague is not a good thing and can create a feeling of neglect with the customer.
- Don't allow distractions to take you away from the customer. You may be a great multitasker, but the customer wants your attention to help them. If they don't get it, they will find it elsewhere and they will remember that next time.
- Be Honest.
- If you can't meet their request, tell them. Even make some recommendations as to how they can solve their problem. This may mean them going to competition. This shows you are interested in the customer and helping them. They will remember this next time.
At the end, finish with something that will leave a good impression and lead them back to you in the future. This may be as simple as a friendly farewell and walking them out, giving them a small gift or offering them a discount next time.
Also, remember, anyone can be a possible future customer so practice some or all of these tips when ever meeting someone. It may pay off later when it comes to contract or sales time or in the future when they remember their previous encounter with you. Learn to do this as a habit so that you are doing it with out thinking. The customer will pickup if you are "following a script".
These are some simple steps you can use to increase your face to face sales and build goodwill with your customers.
Want to look deeper into this subject here is a great documentary on the subject.