Creating trusting relationships is crucial in all areas of the business world, and especially when it comes to customers. You could be the most passionate and knowledgeable paint and decorating retailer in your city, but if your customers and clients don’t trust you, you probably won’t receive their business.
Independent retailers, however, have an advantage when it comes to building rapport with customers. Since independent shops are generally smaller, salespeople have more time and freedom to make lasting connections, create brand advocates and – ultimately – increase retention. And because of the local nature of your business, the opportunity for positive word-of-mouth is much greater.
To help you and your employees hone in on your rapport-building skills, take a look at these 5 effective tips.
Match Their Style. Within the first few moments of approaching a customer in your store, take a few seconds to try to gauge their communication style. Does it seem like they’re in an open, friendly mood, or do you get the impression they would rather side-step the small talk and get down to business? Every customer is different and some might not have a lot of time to politely talk about the weather before explaining what they need to purchase. They’ll appreciate if you match their style to make their shopping experience as quick and efficient or as relaxing and leisurely as possible.
Get To Know Them. From the moment the customer walks into your store, your first priority should always be to make them feel welcome and special. If the person is open to chatting (see No. 1), there is a great opportunity to build a strong foundation by asking their name and learning a little bit about them. Actively listen to their wants, needs, projects and problems in a friendly way so they’ll know you’re not only there to help, but that they can come back for more excellent service in the future with someone who knows their entire story.
Body Language. Let your customers know you’re actively engaged in what they’re saying by presenting open body language. Face your body towards theirs and nod along while they’re explaining their wants and needs. Since 55 per cent of your communication comes through non-verbal elements like gestures, facial expressions and posture, your customers can easily tell whether the salesperson is actually interested in what they’re saying. By remaining engaged in the conversation, your body language will tell your customers that you’re a good listener and value their business.
Solve Problems Before Selling Products. One of the best ways to build rapport with customers is to solve before you sell. If a person comes into your store with a particular issue and has a salesperson pushing unhelpful products on them, it could result in the loss of not only a sale, but also a future customer and the repercussions of bad word-of-mouth. However, if a customer notices the salesperson is offering helpful suggestions before and beyond a purchase, they’ll trust that you’re in the business to help them instead of simply making a sale – and likely pass along the good word.
Follow Up & Stay Connected. Building rapport with clients and customers doesn’t always happen in one visit. Take the time to send follow-up emails asking your customers how they enjoyed their product or how a certain project turned out. And if you have social media accounts, pay attention to the comments and direct messages from customers and inquirers, as most people use them as a way of communication with businesses they love. Social media engagements are a great way to not only market your business, but also maintain relationships with customers outside of the store.