How to make customers feel like you’re on the same team

How to make customers feel like you’re on the same team

Attracting customers and keeping them requires continual effort. Often, that means investing time and energy into promotions, networking events, client meetings and sales negotiations. Getting in front of clients is one thing, but how do you then win people over?

We don’t trust people we don’t know, so an important skill in business development is building rapport quickly, especially for sole traders, consultants and businesses offering professional services.

Small business owners can take cues from the fields of psychology, behavioural science and market research to become more successful at engaging and influencing people.

Seek a deeper connection

Marketing guru Seth Godin says you need to find a way to join the conversation that is already taking place in the minds and hearts of your ideal customers. Don’t aim to convince others, aim to understand what they already believe and value.

Listen to people closely with the intent of understanding, so you can begin to raise areas of shared concern (not products or solutions). Goodwill comes easier when we’re with like-minded people.

It also builds relationships, and that’s vital; we’re more likely to trust the recommendations of friends, and more likely to recommend products and services to others if we think it will create a sense of belonging. 

When you have good relationships you can ask your connections to introduce you at networking events, and more easily get your happy customers to refer a friend.

Focus on warmth not confidence

In an interview with Wired Magazine, Social psychologist Amy Cuddy of Harvard Business School said research indicates it’s more important to come across as trustworthy than confident in order to make a positive first impression.

“People need to trust you in order to be themselves. So trying to be the more dominant one in the interaction is probably going to make it harder for you to get accurate information about the other person, because it’s going to shut them down.”

Instead, she recommends letting the other person speak and using small talk as an opportunity to express warmth and take an interest in other people: “If you are trusting, if you project trust, people are more likely to trust you.”

Understand how your physical stance can affect others. For instance, research has shown women may prefer face-to-face interactions while men prefer standing side by side, because it feels like a less competitive approach to fostering intimacy.

Be willing to change personalities

Celebrated speaker and columnist, Kare Anderson, who specialises in what she describes as ‘connective behaviour’, penned an article for Huffington Post which said that you should enter negotiations with a clear goal so you can choose how you want to act, rather than be reactive.

Despite what you may think, your personality is not fixed and you can adapt depending on the social situation. Anderson suggests widening your range of behaviours to act more like the person you’re talking with, so that you feel more ‘in-sync’.

To increase the sense of cooperation, she suggests practicing a communication approach called Triangle Talk: “refer to their interests first (you), then how the topic relates to a sweet spot of mutual interest (us), and finally, how it relates to your interests (me).”

In sync and on target

Understanding and applying what is known about human behaviour can improve your ability to build genuine trust that leads to more sales and repeat business.

The more 'in-sync' you are with others, the more interest and loyalty you’ll enjoy, helping you achieve sustainable business growth.