By Laura Huckabee-Jennings, CEO – Relationships are key to success in the workplace and in business. Not only do you need to connect with your co-workers, but you also need to be able to effectively connect with customers. We know great salespeople build strong relationships with customers to develop profitable business. They uncover opportunities earlier and they know how to demonstrate value. Also, they generate referrals and repeat business.
What makes some people so successful at this, while others struggle? The key to connecting deeply with your customers, internal or external, is to really put yourself in their shoes and understand what makes your product or service valuable for them. You are providing something of value, and you need to understand the value your customer will place on it, not what you want to get from them. Therefore, if you want to truly connect with customers, it’s really about empathy and curiosity.
We recommend Everything DiSC® Sales as one way to get inside your customer’s head and understand how they prefer to build relationships, and how they like to receive information. For example, your “C” buyer wants data and time to analyze it. Your “I” buyer needs to talk about big ideas. Understanding each customer’s behavioral style can help you make a personal connection and your customer will feel comfortable and understood.
Beyond this kind of style assessment, to help you make those connections better, here are five key questions and what they can help you understand to better connect with customers:
Understand Core Values
1. What do you want to be known for? This question helps you understand the core values a customer holds for him or herself. Does this person see their personal mission as efficiency? Innovation? Strategy? Process? Competitiveness? Knowing how they see their role gives you the ability to tailor your communication to highlight how it helps them achieve their personal vision. It may also be something they haven’t thought about before, and your question challenges them to think. It also demonstrates interest in them as a person, and not just for whatever value they can provide.
2. What keeps you up at night? This question gets to the heart of what challenges create the most stress and anxiety for someone. Along with the first question, it identifies specific barriers to this person achieving their personal goals. You are able to continue to empathize and be personal, and also focus on real business issues. With the answer to this question, you can decide how your offering might address the core issue this person needs to solve.
3. If you could solve just one problem, what would you work on? Of all the many things that may keep your customer up at night, which one would make the most difference if it were resolved? In asking this, you ask your customer to reflect and prioritize, you reinforce your interest in being a partner, and you understand how you might add value and be in the best position to work with them further.
4. How will things be different in a year if you do nothing? Sometimes customers are reluctant to commit and engage in wishful thinking about their challenges. It might sound like, “let’s revisit this after the planning season,” or “we just need to get past the summer rush/tax season/business reviews,” or “When Sara gets back from her vacation things will be better.” By asking how things will change without action, your customer can see more clearly that wishful thinking or needless delay will only make the challenge tougher to tackle later.
Understand the Buying Cycle
5. What would it take for us to work together? Finally, it is critical to understand where you are in the customer’s buying cycle. Are they kicking the tires, exploring options, interested but without budget, or ready to take action? This question is not forceful, but indicates interest in working together. It allows the customer to take the lead on explaining how the organization buys your product or service, and how you might enter that process. You can save a lot of guessing about intentions, timing, and budget by asking this simple question.
Do you need to improve the way you connect with customers? Try using these questions, and if you would like to go deeper in understanding your customers’ behavioral styles, let us know!