This Manta article was way too good not to share…so I’m sharing it.
The question driving the piece is an entertaining one. It asks simply if your approach to attracting customers is more teacher—educating your customer about your products, helping them learn about how they can use their resources to earn more or grow their businesses—or preacher, wherein you try to convert the heathens and philistines of the world into steady customers. I couldn’t help but picture the following exchange when thinking about the preacher end of things:
Customer: I’ll take a glass of water.
Biz Owner: I’ll give you a glass of water, but first enjoy this PowerPoint deck on why my business is so great and you should love us.
Customer: You know, I’m kind of thirsty…
Biz Owner: Founded in 1832 by Jebediah Ebenezer, Holy Waters has a long tradition of quality. Here’s a bullet point list of some of our greatest hits, including when we stopped putting laxatives in our water.
Customer: On second thought, I’m just going to hit the water fountain across the street.
As you can see by this hypothetical example, the automatic reaction in the face of a blitz of self-serving publicity is fleeing. My own reaction is more or less identical, so this approach is going to have very little success unless you’re selling, say, religion.
So you should be a teacher. Manta has a handful of tips in that regard, but allow me to add my own:
- Engage and educate. Reel customers in by having a conversation about what they’re looking for. What brought them into your business? How can what you do benefit them? Find out what their needs are and then share your expertise in a conversational way, and you’ll find appreciative customer follow.
- Patience. If you expect a prospect to turn into a customer or a customer to turn into a voracious buying machine overnight, you’re bound to run into disappointment. Build the relationship, offer up your advice but don’t push it and don’t lapse into the bully pulpit. Some will take to your approach immediately, while others will need time to think, especially if what you sell is expensive.
- Compare and contrast. Customers connect better with fellow customers than businesses, as research has shown time and time again. Have example situations ready to illustrate how customers have benefited from your products and services, and draw parallels to their own situations. If you have testimonials, make sure they’re easy to access, but don’t push them. Think of them as a supplement to your own efforts to connect.
Follow these steps and resist the urge to evangelize. It’s easy to do once you put your mind to it, and the payoff will be better engagement, and customers that don’t politely edge toward the door as soon as you start talking.
Does this mirror how you engage your customers and sales prospects? Let us know!
Photo credit to bluedaisy at http://www.sxc.hu/photo/267030