When Meeting Your Customer for the First Time

Customers will create a lasting impression about your in the first several minutes of meeting you.  Your introductory meeting is your opportunity to create a good first impression. Every prospective customer you meet for the first time is making a decision about you, the salesperson, before they will decide on your company or product.

4 Ways You Communicate With Your Customers

Whether you realize it or not, you communicate with your customers through four communication channels:

  1. The words you say
  2. How you say your words (i.e., your volume and vocal tone)
  3. Your facial expressions (are you smiling, frowning, or straight-faced)
  4. Your body language (do you make eye contact, do you cross your arms)

About 10% of your communication is through the words you say, about 40% through your tone and volume of speech, and almost 50% through your facial expressions and body language.  This means you communicate the most about yourself through non-verbal means.  In fact, if your non-verbal communication is not consistent with your verbal communication, such as frowning while saying you’re excited to see someone, people will believe the non-verbal communication over the verbal.

It is therefore very important to make all four of your communication channels positive and welcoming.  Greet your prospective customer with positive energy, enthusiasm, and confidence.

When greeting them:

Non-verbal communication:

  • Use a warm, genuine smile.
  • Maintain eye contact.
  • Offer a friendly, professionally firm handshake. 

Verbal communication:

  • Call them by name.  People love to be acknowledged by name.
  • Introduce your name and company name.
  • Ask open, rapport-building question, such as “How are you doing today?” or “How is your day going so far?”

Have your business card conveniently at hand when making your introduction and offer your card to them immediately after introducing your name and company.  This helps them remember your name during the conversation.

Be alert to their non-verbal communication and base your initial open-ended questions on what you see or the mood your customer projects.  If they are happy and cheerful, ask them how their day is going.  If they seem upset or distracted, you can show respect and sensitivity by asking: “Is now still a good time for you to meet?”  Avoid questions that are too personal or on subjects that could be considered insensitive or in bad taste.

During the conversation, encourage your prospects to talk about themselves.  Pay close attention to them and really listen to what they are saying.  This will build a stronger sense of trust and comfort in them for you and your company.  It will also help you learn what your customer’s wants and needs are so that you can make sure you can offer them the best possible service.  A common mistake many salespeople make is talking too much and not letting their customers speak about themselves and what they want.

Remember that your customer is not simply buying from your company, they are buying from you.  You represent the company and products to them.  If they don’t trust or like you, they will project this and not trust or like your company and products.

In summary, you need to make sure you get your relationship off to a great start by building rapport with your customer from the very beginning.  Doing the following simple things each time you meet a new customer will go a long way in building a good relationship:

  • Smile
  • Use your customer’s name
  • Develop a genuine interest in your customer
  • Listen
  • Maintain eye contact
  • Talk in terms of their interests and needs
  • Make them feel important

And remember:  Be conscious of the non-verbal communication messages you are sending to your customer and make sure they are as positive and welcoming as the words you are saying.

The Ultimate Sparkle team (www.ultimatesparkle.com)

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