Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to Fall in Love With Your Customers

In articles to come I will talk more (as I have before) about ways you can more effectively get customers to your farm (or store or website).  Those are some of the nuts and bolts of marketing that you can learn and get better at, like headlines and copywriting skills.
But, falling in love with that customer standing in front of you is how you help them get the feelings they long for with a new purchase.  See, they don't really come to you wanting your ________________(animal, service, product).  They want to feel a certain way when they own it.  That's a big difference.  And when you tune in to that difference, your business thrives and everyone wins! 
No one is immune to love.  Let's define it in this context.  When you love your customer, you tune in to his heart and psyche.  You care about his results.  You see into his 'soul' for the things that positively touch his life.  You put his needs first.  You like him.  You "get" him.  You are on his page, not your own.
"Wow,: I hear you thinking..."That's a big order!"  Maybe not so big as it looks from the outside. 
Before that customer shows up (or gets on the phone) you need to check your own attitudes.  You may have very strong opinions and beliefs about politics or religion or raising children or diet or any number of other things, but for the time you're dealing with customers, tuck those attitudes in a closet somewhere in your own head and remember they have no place in your dealing with customers.  (Maybe later in some cases, but not now.)  If you can do that, it gets you far away from any judgmental superiority.  'Judge not lest you be judged' was very sound advice long ago and it holds today.
Now let me give you three actions that make you fall in love with your customer. And co-incidentally, make him fall in love with you!
1.  Actively look for things that you like about this person.  Find one or two right away.  These can be physical or psychological things.  You are looking for something you can compliment him on.  Doesn't have to be a biggie, either. 
    "I love the way the sun catches your hair color today."
    "You have the loveliest smile."
    "Isn't that about the cutest two year old I've ever seen."
    "It's so gratifying to me when people come prepared for the mud."
    "I really appreciate your promptness."
    "Your vocabulary on conformation is impressive."
    "It's so great that you already did your homework about ____________."
    "Love your bumper sticker!"
Two things happen when you give someone a compliment.  The first is in you.  You will always get more of what you're focused on.  If you are focused on what's good about this person, you are more drawn to him and will find more to like.  But second is that people always respond positively to compliments (ie to you and by extension, your stuff or your service).  And by the way, this works on children, mates, co-workers and staff, too. 
2.  Look them in the eye!  Making eye contact is super important.  Again, it is two fold--both in you and in the customer.  For you, first.  The eyes are the window to the soul--that might be a cliché--but it's true anyway.  You can see how they are feeling, how they are responding, if you need to do something different, if they are excited, or even serious or not.  You can "read" people when you look into their eyes.  And in the customer, when you make eye contact, they feel important to you, that you care.   Not making eye contact sends the message that you're evasive and you don't find them important.  What does a picture of two people gazing into each others' eyes convey?  Love.
For phone conversations you get the effect of eye contact from listening very carefully and sometimes paraphrasing what they've just said to see if you got it right.  In other words, paying very close attention.
For some people it's an easy thing to look people in the eye.  But if you are particularly shy and find it hard, think about it this way.  Whatever you initially feel about 'intruding' they are also initially feeling.  Sometimes it just helps to know you're not alone in that discomfort.  And practice on someone who's sympathetic to your shyness first!  Then realize that there are benefits to you both to overcome that shyness.
3. Ask open-ended questions--and listen to their answers.  Given half a chance, customers will tell you exactly how to fulfill their dreams and longings.  If you ask questions with one or two word answers, they can't.  The questions need to be ones that get them talking in long paragraphs.
Not "Do you want milk or meat from your goats?"
But, "Tell me about the goals for your own goat farm." (notice it's not even technically a question.)
Not, "What kind of alpaca are you looking for?"
But, "What are you looking to accomplish with your alpaca herd?"
Not, "Is the horse difficult for you?"
But, "How is the horse difficult for you?"
As easy way to remember this action step is to start with the words, "Tell me how..." or "Tell me about..."  or "What do you want to see...?"  Then listen very carefully to what they say.  Within their answers is the information that tells you how to serve them impeccably--a win/win for everyone concerned.  And by the way, people love those who care enough about them to listen to their dreams.  They will love you right back!
Falling in love with your customer is easy when you know how!  And you both will be happy with the results.

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