The Art of Dealing with Customers

It seems that everybody at one time or another has met someone who might be described as a “natural born” salesperson. As human beings, we tend to stereotype people in our minds and label them as having an ability which is unique to that individual. But the reality about sales and working with customers is that it’s a learned skill. Most salespeople have crafted their art over time by repeated practice and customer interaction, exactly like any other profession.

Unfortunately, many sales and customer service professionals struggle with customers and closing sales because nobody has taught them what to really do. So how exactly does one master this art for financial gain? Here are some quick steps that will help you make sense of it all.

Take Control

Unfortunately, working with customers can sometimes be challenging. Let’s face it, human beings can be grumpy. It’s very easy for your attitude to be affected by negative people and become frustrated yourself. This is a top concern for professional salespeople. So how exactly can you prevent the positive energy from being sucked from your body? Use the following steps to take control from the beginning.

  1. When first meeting a customer, look them right in the eyes. Engaging a person this way, will instantly gain their attention. This is the initial contact.
  2. Immediately greet them. Your greeting will assure you’re in control. Remember to smile or at least be sincerely excited about what you’re doing.
  3. Wait for them to respond. Keep quiet and let them react to your greeting. This is where a good percentage of salespeople miss opportunities. They think they need to immediately start selling something. Don’t. The relationship with your customer is the key, NOT the sales pitch. By carefully listening and absorbing into your brain how the person responds will instantly tell you what kind of a mood and personality you are dealing with. This is your upper hand in taking control.

Now the most important step!

Mirror the customer

This is one of the best skills any person who deals with customers can have. The most eye-opening observation I have made over the years is just how different each and every person is. All humans walk their own unique path and are independent and separate from everyone else. Unless someone can prove to me otherwise, there are no two people who share a brain. Add on to this that our moods change and the result is a single uniqueness in everyone.

Carefully watch how each customer responds after greeting them. Your job now is to respond back in the same manner. But mirroring the customer does not entail imitating their voice or walking like them (But that would be funny). It means using your voice tones to communicate on the same level and speed. In the course of an average day, you will meet all different kinds of personalities; loud people, shy types, some who won’t stop talking and others who seem very serious.

What mirroring means is to immediately emulate their attitude and voice level. In their mind they think they are talking to someone who is exactly like themselves. After all, who wouldn’t want to do business with someone who is similar in nature to themselves? People like people who seem like them.

So mirror people right after they respond to your greeting. Of course, always be polite and sincere. But if they respond in a higher voice tone than yours, bring your tone up a little. If they seem very serious, talk to them the same way. Immediately go up or down to their level. You will be amazed at how people’s faces light up immediately. You are in essence taking away the anxiety some customers have when they need to talk with a customer service representative or sales person. I find that about 99% of people are reasonable and actually welcome friendly business interactions. You just have to adjust to them, not the other way around.

Successfully mirroring customers takes practice. It also requires a lot of observation on your part. Whether you work in retail or cold call prospective clients, take the time to watch your colleagues in action. You can learn a lot! Customer service is about connecting and helping people. A very successful national furniture representative once told me that people buy from you because they like you. Period.

Once you realize how important this step is, everything should click in for you.

Sincerity sells

When I started my career in sales, mentors told me to practice my voice tones and sincerity in the mirror. I ignored this advice. But after many weeks of frustration and low sales, I decided to try listening to myself, by myself. I can’t even tell you how it helped me. I believe that this one exercise led to me quickly moving on to the next level in the organization.

One important tip that can make a big difference in your success is to lose a memorized sales line, unless it’s required. As a consumer, whenever someone approaches me with a canned greeting, I immediately know that they were trained to repeat the same line to everyone. Servers tend to do this often when they say “I’ll be your server today”. It seems quite prevalent in certain companies and industries. But the bottom line again is that people will buy from you because they like you and the mini relationship you develop.

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