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How To Earn the Customer's Respect

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. -- That is what you mean to me
Needless to say, if customers are going to respect you, you'd better be able to add value to their business. Mutual respect, however, goes beyond the proverbial bottom line. If you want customers to respect you, you've got to show them respect. This means having more than just exhibiting common courtesy and a friendly attitude. It means treating the prospect or customer as if they were one of the most important individuals in your world. Here are some pointers for developing this level of respect:

  • Realize that the opening minute of any new interaction creates an impression that is difficult to change. Become a master of the first impression by focusing in on it.
  • Remember whom the customer is most interested in. If you find yourself talking too much about your weekend, your golf game, your family or your job, then you're probably not listening enough.
  • When meeting someone for the first time, get their name right. Be fanatical about pronunciation with unusual names. Prospects will appreciate it and it will communicate that you care.
  • Record interesting information about your customers, like the names of family members and birthdays. Show your customers that you remembered what they told you about themselves.
  • Try to speak positively about others. Whatever the temptation, avoid criticizing anyone, even a competitor, in front of your customers. Criticizing others makes you look underhanded.
  • Develop a warm and friendly greeting. If you're in sales, your smile, handshake and eye contact should be top quality. Rehearse these with a colleague who'll give honest feedback.
  • Remember that rapport is a result of likability, competence and preparedness. Pay attention to all three factors and make sure that your approach is balanced between them.
  • Likable people are typically genuinely interested in others, enthusiastic, and eager to help. A positive, upbeat attitude, along with honest curiosity, plays a big role in creating mutual respect.
The above is based on a conversation with Michael St. Lawrence, president of Outsell Consulting and author of the best-selling book "If You're Not Out Selling, You're Being Outsold."

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