By Sarah Robinson
Do you have customers or do you have clients? If you don’t know the difference, it could be hurting your business. Here’s how Merriam-Webster dictionary defines customer:
1 : one that purchases a commodity or service
2 : an individual usually having some specified distinctive trait customer>
And here is the definition for client:
1: dependent 2 a:customer clients> a person who engages the professional advice or services of another clients> b: one that is under the care and protection of another.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather be viewed as a trusted advisor by those I come in contact than someone who sells “a commodity or service”.
Customers trade dollars for things. They buy something and then they are gone.
Clients are “under your care and protection” and are counting on you to look out for their best interests, over and over again. The long-term nature of the client relationship means that, once it is established, they will come to you again and again seeking your expert advice and recommendations.
Now, having clients rather than customers is a big responsibility. You must present yourself as having the knowledge, the expertise and the ability to put the best interests of others at the he art of your business.
How can you do that?
Here are a few quick ideas to get you st arted in converting your “customers” into “clients”:
1) Put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions that really help you get to know them and understand their personal priorities. Only then can you make recommendations that are best for them. If you let what is best for you leak into your suggestions, you will blow your chance at becoming a trusted advisor.
2) Help them solve their problems. Even if the solution has nothing to do with your business, you will be remembered as someone who is more interested in helping than in selling. This goes a long way in establishing a “client” relationship.
3) Ask meaningful questions like “what’s your biggest challenge right now?” then shut up and listen – really listen – to the answers. We all want to feel heard and if you are too busy waiting for your chance to “pitch” your products and services, you will miss out on gaining the knowledge you need to become a trusted advisor.
4) Discover their unique priorities and make product and service recommendations that will help them accomplish those priorities. For example, if your newest team member would feel really great if she were able to pay for her son’s soccer shoes – help her get those shoes! If you tell her she’s dreaming too small right off the bat, how likely is it that she will trust you with her dreams in the future?
5) Communicate regularly with non-sales messages. I get monthly cards from my financial planner that include helpful investment or money management tips that are not attached to a sales message of any kind. Now, when it is time for me to get expert advice, guess who I think of first?
6) Keep your word. Nothing, I mean absolutely nothing, is as pivotal to becoming a trusted advisor as the ability to keep your word. Sounds pretty basic, I know, but I get horror stories every day of direct selling leaders who promise the moon and deliver very little.
Those are just some ideas to get you started in the direction of developing “clients” rather than just “customers”.
Remember, customers buy once and are gone. Clients return to you over and over again. Which is going to feed you for life?
Sarah Robinson publishes The Leader’s Edge, a bi-weekly ezine exclusively for leaders in the direct selling, network marketing and multi-level marketing industries. If you are ready for cutting edge business strategies that will make you more money, give you more free time and put more fun in your direct selling business, get your FREE subscription now at http://www.directsellingleaders.com
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