In sales, it can be tempting to think about your existing customers as loyal and satisfied, simply by virtue of the fact that they’re doing business with you more than once. Don’t trick yourself into that kind of thinking! Loyalty and satisfaction find their roots in something deeper than habit. There needs to be some kind of engaging, emotional connection between you and your audience, and the way you make that happen is through the way you communicate with them.
This is where social media can really help. It’s immediate, personal and easy to share. However, as with all other kinds of communications, it’s only going to be effective if what you have to say is engaging to others. Remember, it’s not just the quantity of what you have to say, it’s the quality of your messages that creates engagement.
“If you suck in real life, you will suck online.” That’s how Rory Vaden, self-discipline strategist, speaker and author, summed up the problem recently at the National Speakers Association meeting that I attended. He explained that as sales people and business owners, we have a professional responsibility to live interesting lives, to associate with interesting people, and to be interested in others and other things than just our business. Offer more than something you want to sell.
Interest strikes an emotional chord with people. It’s why Harley Davidson (and enthusiastic owners of their bikes, like me) talks so much about the ride experience, why the maker of Gretsch guitars talks about “that great Gretsch sound,” and why Nike invites people to “Just Do It.” Each of these messages suggests an idea that people find appealing on a level that’s deeper than carrying out a simple business transaction.
Interest is reciprocal. The more interestedyou are in others, the moreinteresting you are to others. By sharing experiences with your audience, you pique their curiosity to learn more about you. You also create an invitation for them to realize: “hey this is someone who understands the problems that I deal with in my work.”
Interest is also contagious. When your audience takes interest in what you do and what you have to say, it’s likely that they are going to want to share it with others. The more your ideas and activities are shared, the bigger your audience becomes for your expertise, plus the products or services you sell.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting you start jumping out of airplanes or try accomplishing feats suited for the Guinness Books of Records (well, unless that is what you really love to do). I am suggesting that you find ways via social media and other activities to showcase your personality online and offline so that people can connect with you in a meaningful way, rooted in emotional experiences.
When you engage, people buy and stay loyal. No matter how boring a product might be, people buy you first. What’s implicit in that idea is that it’s not enough to just invest time in doing interesting things. People would rather do business with those who show as much interest in their customers as they do in themselves.
With these points in mind, here’s a pair of top-10 activities you can rely on for showing interest in others and to demonstrate to them your own interests outside of work.
Ten great ways to show you are interested in others:
- Send personalized thank-you cards in response to new orders, referrals, testimonials, or even just to thank them for their time.
- Ask questions about your customer’s business, their goals and their challenges for the year.
- Mail your client a valuable article, book, magazine or news clipping. Something you think would be valuable to their business.
- Send birthday cards. Not everyone likes to share how old they are, but just about everyone likes it when their birthday is remembered.
- Showcase client success stories. Have a customer-of-the-month contest. Highlight this customer in your newsletter or offer them a gift based on their success using your product or service.
- Follow your clients on Twitter and retweet their best posts. Same thing with Facebook: follow and comment regularly on their posts that resonate with you.
- Run a contest on Twitter or Facebook in which you invite customers to post their favorite experience working with you, and then award the best entry.
- Repost your customer’s best blog posts, or quote from them in your own blogging when what they have to say is relevant to your clients and your business.
- Recommend your best clients on LinkedIn. While you are at it, recommend your clients to their own bosses!
- Always ask questions. You noticed that I already mentioned this, right? It deserves a second mention because it’s doubly important to your success.
Ten great ways to be more interesting to others:
- Begin your newsletter with a personal message, and be sure to include your photo.
- Have a real picture of you on your website. It doesn’t necessarily have to be shot by a professional photographer.
- Commit to trying one thing new each month and then share your thoughts on the experiences via social media.
- Invite your clients to attend networking events and charity events with you.
- Catch the writing bug. You are an expert in what you do, so create a portfolio of best-practices articles, quick tips, testimonials, case studies. Save time and hire a professional writer to quickly fine-tune your message and to help grow your audience.
- Host or attend webinars, seminars or conferences. Offer to sit on industry panels, and to conduct presentation with your clients or just on your own.
- Be a leader in your market. Moderate online forums. Do research in your industry. Position yourself next to other thought leaders. Join industry associations and groups and work on their educational event.
- Pay attention to what is going on around you in your profession and share with others your informed opinion about trends, problems and other issues.
- Tie your hobby to the work you do (for example at Engage we once wrote about the parallels of riding a Harley and selling)
- Publicly celebrate interesting holidays with your clients. It can be an awareness-related day, such as Earth Day, or something light like Donut Day or even International Talk Like a Pirate Day (coming up soon…September 19th).
Adopt your favorites from this pair of top-10 lists and suddenly there will be plenty of incentives for your customers to call on you again and again. The payoff can be lucrative when your customers are engaged by what you have to say and what you do. Consider the results of a recent Gallup consumer survey, which found that clients who were emotionally engaged spent 46% more than those who were merely ranked as satisfied clients. Communicate with empathy, offer something of value in what you have to say and share experiences in an emotionally compelling way. People will take notice and you’ll sell more in less time.