What does good selling have in common with good customer service? EVERYTHING.

Exceptional selling and exceptional customer service require a focus on the customer. Focusing on the customer makes the customer feel important and valued and when they feel important and valued, they are more likely to become a customer and remain a customer.

How do you stay focused on the customer’s needs rather than your own agenda?

In both customer service and sales, using basic sales techniques helps you to build relationships which will help you win customers and keep them.

  1. Active listening. Active listening means to be present to the conversation and to listen carefully to what your prospect or customer is saying. What they are REALLY saying? Look them in the eye and watch their body language and stay engaged with your body language. Nod your head. Be responsive. Demonstrate that you hear what they are saying and don’t wander off into your own head about what YOU want to say next. When you think about what you are going to say next, you are not really listening.
  2. Use Open-Ended Questions. Open ended questions are meant to “open up” the discussion because these questions cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no”. These questions start with “how”, “when”, “where”, “why”, “what”. You will find out more information from your client or potential client by asking them questions, listening, and gathering information.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t script out your conversation in your head ahead of time and assume you know what the customer needs and wants. You need to ask the right questions to  get accurate information. A lost sales opportunity can happen when you assume that someone needs something and you gear your whole conversation in that direction only to find out later that they were interested in another product or service you have. They might have bought from you, but you didn’t present the product due to your false assumptions. Or in customer service, you assume that the complaining customer is wrong and don’t really listen to them and, therefore, lose a customer and miss the opportunity to improve your business.
  4. Clarify. Make sure that you truly understand what the customer is saying. “So what I hear you saying is..” That way there is no misunderstanding.
  5. Acknowledge and Validate. You show respect and understanding when you acknowledge the customer and validate their position. You show appreciation for their point of view. You are building a relationship.
  6. Focus on the Client’s Agenda. When you listen to your customer instead of what’s in your own head, you have a much better chance to resolve customer issues or find an opportunity to sell your product or services.
  7. Detachment. This is really crucial in order to maintain your cool in a customer service situation especially if it is your own business. When we become defensive, we build a wall between ourselves and our customers making it more difficult to resolve issues because we cannot hear the customer’s point of view. In a sales situation, when we are too attached to the outcome, we are no longer focused on the customer and we are not listening to what the customer wants and needs.

How would you like to be treated as a customer?

How would you like someone to respond to you when you have an issue?

Are you more likely to purchase from someone who talks AT you and doesn’t listen to YOU or someone who engages you in a conversation and asks you questions about what you need?

Remember, the way you like to be treated is the best way to treat your customers.