How do I engage with my customers?

My sales are not improving and my competitors seem to be more popular  – Why?

This is something I have heard over and over again. It’s an awkward situation, because you review your business and can see that you have good sales people, internal and external, your products are great, maybe even better than your competitors, you advertise, you exhibit, your website is modern and easy to navigate – what are you doing wrong? Well, there is no short answer (sorry!). The chances are your competitor is better at engaging with their customers (your customers) than you are.

Nowadays competition is so rife that simply doing everything right isn’t enough, you need to look to the big successful ‘popular’ companies for inspiration and change your tactic to up your game.

Engaging with your customers is simply building a better relationship with them. Just like you would a friend, you talk to them on equal footing, you don’t patronise, you don’t bark advertising at them, you don’t do the stereotypical crappy sales pitch you yourself have heard so often. Customers, well most anyway, aren’t stupid. The input of information that the average person has nowadays makes them far more savvy to the wiley ways of the sales person. It’s now more important than ever to know your customer so you can communicate to them in a way that they like. Everyone is different, so you as a business need to be able to recognise that and adapt accordingly.

Just the other day I had a chap on the phone calling to try and sell me advertising space in a industry sector publication. The offer was pretty good on the face of it: One full page advert, one 500 word online editorial, and one homepage button linking back to my company website. I’ll be honest here, the guy was a dick! He wasn’t interested in what was good for my business he presumed to know me, starting the conversion with:

“Alright mate. Thank God it’s Friday eh? Suppose you’ll be going out for a few pints and watching the football tonight?”

“Er No…”

Now it’s not his fault I don’t follow football, I have friends who do. What is so wrong with this conversion is his presumption. He is presuming things about me and therefore labelling me and giving me an identity I don’t necessarily want before I have chance to even say ‘Hello’. In other words he’s not engaging with me he’s talking at me and thus pushing me away. Before I have even heard his offer I have pretty much decided that I will not take the offer. I’d love so hear what he says when a woman answers the phone.

If you’re not engaging your customers, they will very soon lose interest and move on. Good brands are engaging and good brands make choosing easier.

Lets take a look at websites. Some websites are better than others, some websites are old and some new. Some websites are filled with beautiful images and others are not. There are no quick answers to what your website should look like; it entirely depends on what sort of business you are and what sort of people your customers are. For example, there are a good few websites out there now that have a full page image on their homepage, often with little else. These often create a beautiful first impression, unfortunately, unless you are a photographer, film maker, or very famous you won’t leave a lasting one. You need to have something on your home page with which the visitor can engage…

Come back later for more on how to engage your website visitors…