No matter how great of an idea you have, your success as an entrepreneur comes down to securing paying clients. How else can you expect your business to thrive? But, how can you effectively win over clients who are willing to buy into what you're selling? Honing the following 14 skills will put you on the path to success.
According to research from the University of Missouri, most of us "spend 70 to 80 percent of our waking hours in some form of communication." Even more interesting, 45 percent of that communication is listening--which many of us are inefficient at.
By improving your listening skills, you will be able to actually hear and understand the wants and needs of your clients. That knowledge is crucial to winning clients.
In addition to learning to listen, you also need to be able to communicate the benefits of your company and how you can help your prospective clients. I've had to do this to countless customers for my hosting business over the past year. This requires countless hours and a lot of patience, but communicating everything is key to winning top clients.
Who are your prospective clients? How do you plan on reaching them? What can you offer them that the competition can not? Having a strategy will guide you in targeting the right clients with the right message.
And, you don't have to wait until your product or service launches. My good friend Jim Shaw who runs a worm farm says "that you plan in advance the clients who you want to work with. Once you have these individuals in mind, take them out to lunch and see if you can get referrals or pieces of advice. I've gotten 100′s of clients by using this method."
Just because a client tells you something doesn't necessarily mean it's true. That's why it's important to be able read and interpret non-verbal cues. For example, eye contact is extremely important since it "conveys confidence, attention, and trust," according to Jayson Demers on Inc.com. Looking away, however, could be a sign of lack in confidence. Paying attention to body language will help you better understand what your client's really want.
You want the right deal for your business right? One of the best ways to do this is by being ablt to negotiate. When you've perfected this skill, you'll be able to come up with the best deal or scenario for both you and your clients--which will make them more inclined to select your business over the competition.
Clients want to be assured that you meet deadlines and deliver results. The only way this can be accomplished is through top-notch management. Just remember not to dig yourself into a hole and overpromise on deadlines, products, etc. Be honest and only promise your clients what you can handle.
Whether it's attending a trade show, speaking at a workshop, running a blog and picking up the phone to follow-up on a lead, you need to be outgoing and get your name out there. Without a little bit of self-promotion how else can you expect clients to discover what you can offer them?
If you want to really impress clients, then create an effective presentation that conveys your passion and enthusiasm. As Cheryl Conner states in Forbes, that "When you are passionate about anything, it is easier to express the 'why' to convince someone else to buy in." She also suggests you are respectful--by not running late or going over the allotted time.
You know why your business is awesome. So, make sure you can confidently articulate what makes your business unique and special to clients. Remember, being confident will not only showcase the advantages of your company, it will highlight your positive attitude. Who do you think clients rather deal with? The positive and confident entrepreneur? Or the unsure, standoffish entrepreneur?
As mentioned on Yahoo Finance, it's one thing to know what you're selling and how to sell it, it's another to know why you're communicating this information to clients. So, why you do need to know how to answer any questions your clients may ask, you also need to ask yourself questions like "What do I want people to take away?" and "What action should they take after we interact?" Answering these questions prior to talking to prospective clients will make it easier guide the conversation.
Always keep in mind that it's not just about you, your products/services, or how to best the competition. It's all about your clients. As James Stephenson notes on Entrepreneur, "Everything you do in business must be customer focused, including your policies, warranties, payment options, operating hours, presentations, advertising, and promotional campaigns and website."
Another way to win over clients is by giving them what they want, when they want it. This will take some hard work, but make sure that prove to your clients that you're willing to go the extra mile for them.
Entrepreneurs are known for being charitable. In fact, research conducted from Fidelity Charitable has found "that nine in 10 (89 percent) entrepreneurs donate money, both personally and through their companies, to support charitable causes." While entrepreneurs see this as a way "to engage with causes that align with their company's core mission," it's also a great way to secure clients with the same vision.
By getting involved with local charities, hosting fundraising events, and being a part associations that match with your philosophy, you'll have the opportunity to mingle with like mike-minded people who are likely to be willing to do business with you as well.
14. Be Concise
The average attention span for people is a mere 8 seconds. That's not exactly a lot of time to make an impression on a client. That's why it's of the utmost important for you to deliver as much information in the shortest amount of time possible. Cut the fat and stick to the basics.