I think we’d all agree that long-term relationships are gold in the business arena, and long-term relationships begin with the very first interaction that delights a customer and are fed by every other interaction subsequently.
Delighting customers at every “moment of truth” along the way is precious, but not easy. There is no one, simple answer for how to make sure every interaction builds in such a way as to cement the relationship. Business is complicated, and there are many twists and turns along the path. But, recently, I heard of a simple “device” that can guide your conversations with prospects and customers to give you a much better chance to keep things moving productively. Devices are merely easy-to-remember words, usually acronyms, that remind you how you should conduct yourself during your interactions. In this case, LEAD is that acronym that can keep you focused in a positive way:
L – Listen.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But, in a fast-moving, pressure-packed exchange, it’s easy to fail to listen as intently as you should. By the way, it’s not enough to just listen. You have to make it clear you are listening. Summarize. Ask follow-up questions based on what you heard. If you are present in the room, make sure your eye contact shows you are engaged and not obsessed with formulating your next response.
E – Empathize.
Can you understand things from the other person’s point of view? That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything, just that you can understand how they feel. Dr. Tony Allessandra said in his book, Non-Manipulative Selling, “People buy most often because they feel that they and their problems are understood by the seller, not because they were made to understand the product by an insistent salesperson.” Make it clear you understand how the other person feels, and if you do not, ask a few more questions to make sure you do.
A – Add Value.
What can you do to add value to the conversation, to offer up expertise or advice, or to help solve a problem that needs to be addressed? People want genuine help these days, but they are quick to check out of conversations where they perceive there is none there.
This is more outcome than action, but if you listen, empathize, and add value to the conversation, you will delight your customers and prospects.
So, make sure you do indeed LEAD in each of those moments of truth, and you will indeed cultivate those precious long-term relationships. Perhaps you can post L-E-A-D next to your phone or PC as a reminder?