I’ve heard it said that we’re all made of the same stuff, but we all use our stuff differently. Are we using our stuff to achieve the greatest success possible? Does the way we use our stuff separate us from our competition? Does it result in intensifying the likelihood of customers continuing to do business with us?
If the answer to any of those questions isn’t a wholehearted “YES!,” then perhaps it’s worth examining why not. The tendency to over-analyze can be a dangerous one. Just as dangerous is failing to examine what is and isn’t working. Whatever our approach, we can’t afford to lose sight of the basics of our business success.
Consider, for example, any great professional athletic coach, and one thing is certain: They keep their team focused on the fundamentals of the game. Why? Without the fundamentals, victory is nearly impossible to achieve. In football, blocking and tackling correctly are more likely to result in victory than the various plays that the quarterback may call.
Granted, essentials are not normally thought of as the exciting aspects of individual plays, but that in no way minimizes their importance. No matter what other advanced strategies we implement, if we cover the basics well, we are almost always guaranteed success. However, our tendencies often lead us to overlook these fundamentals until it is too late and we experience the loss of a customer. Business is, after all, a contact sport.
Whatever the actual fundamental principle may be, the more obvious, simple or apparent, the more likely we are to overlook it. As this concept applies to the field of business competition, where successful customer relationships are the goal, allow me to provide a little coaching. In fact, here are four fundamental principles of creating effective customer relationships that I find are taken for granted at best and dismissed entirely at worst:
Make it your mission to portray an image of kindness rather than one of being the owner or manager. In fact, abandon those positions and focus on demonstrating your approachability, likeability, and authenticity. Those will go a long way toward laying the groundwork of stronger customer relations. After all, being kind is always more important than being right.
Greet everyone with a smile: employees, customers, potential customers and repeat customers, alike. The hardest exteriors are most easily penetrated by a simple smile. People do business with people they like. Showing your interest in others is a basic way to win their hearts and minds.
Extend a hand upon first meeting someone, give your name, and ask for theirs. This is such a simple gesture, yet it’s becoming less and less common. I once found myself in need of a new dry cleaner. I visited several places, but it was a handshake and introduction that ultimately won my business. Sometimes it doesn’t take much to separate us from our competition.
Treat your employees even better than you treat your customers. Be their source of inspiration, motivation, attitude, and example. In many ways, employees are the most effective way to manage a business’ brand. They are most often the ones reflecting the core values and service standards to the customers. Treating them well translates to treating the customer well.
Business—starting it, growing it, maintaining it—is much more complicated, of course, but none of the skill, determination, or hard work we put in can compensate for failing to master these fundamentals. Respecting others is paramount to achieving and sustaining professional success. Getting back to the basic sales strategies always comes down to the relationships you establish with your customers. Meaningful business is always, and will always be, the result of meaningful relationships. If you give VIP treatment, you can expect greater results!