At our company Xgility, we provide consulting services to help our customers Achieve Transformational Results. We leverage tools such as SharePoint and Microsoft cloud technology. Our value, is not in the tools, but in the expertise in apply these tools for our customers.
Two things need to happen before we assist our customer in Achieving a Transformational Result. First, we need to make them like us, and second we need to show them we are credible. In order to do these two things, we need to understand them, their world, their passions, goals, and their concerns.
In a study conducted at UCLA, subjects rated over 500 adjectives based on their perceived significance to likeability. The top-rated adjectives had nothing to do with being gregarious, intelligent, or attractive (innate characteristics). Instead, the top adjectives were sincerity, transparency, and capacity for understanding (another person). TalentSmart research data from more than a million people shows that people who possess these skills aren’t just highly likeable, they outperform those who don’t by a large margin. Soft skills are part of our secret sauce.
Below are four tips to make your customers like you and to build credibility.
In a previous blog article, I stated that in order to become credible, asking good questions is more valuable than sharing information. By doing your homework, you can ask better questions. For instance, Chris Ertz and I had the opportunity to do a project kickoff at new customer this week. The company manufactures instruments that measure color. In this case a good opening question was, "I see from you web site that you make instruments that measure color. This is interesting, could you tell me more about that?" As a follow up question we were able to ask, "Can you tell me more about how your department and the technology you support, helps in the mission of improving the quality of color?"
Being interested in your customer and their mission, is my second recommendation. Demonstrating your interested is at least 50% about your body language. Body language includes your tone of voice, leaning forward and avoiding crossing your arms or looking at your phone. If you are going to type or take notes, it a best practice to ask for permission. Finally smile, look them in the eye and shake their hand if at all possible.
In a good conversation with a customer, they talk more than you do. The customer will do almost all of the talking in the beginning. This is because you will be listening! Listen for jargon and repeat their words back to them. Start sentences with their name. Doing these things demonstrates you are connecting with them and can relate to their issues. In our case, at Hunter Labs, we were able to ask one of the engineers why our logo appears to have a different color on different mediums. We also related to their expertise by mentioning the challenges we had working to correct the colors in our logo.
Before and after our meeting, we had the opportunity to take pictures of several of their instruments (see the picture above).
Seek opportunities to give sincere compliments
All people love to talk about themselves, their company, their hobbies or their work. At Hunter Labs, I had the opportunity to state that "I never knew that instruments that measure color can be used to make sure bread is cooked to just the right level of golden brown". Another opportunity to give a sincere compliment could be to state that you were not aware that their job was so involved or required so much training.
Don't pass judgement, but be willing to take a position
Only after you have asked questions, built credibility and gotten the customer to like you, can you ask them to change. As an expert, you want to share your knowledge, but remember the customer is not wrong. The customer might not have the time, knowledge or expertise to do things a better way.
Now that your customer likes you and you have gained credibility, you will be given the opportunity you to help your customer achieve a transformational result.