There is a big difference between potential customers and customers who actually buy.
Potential customers are interested in your business proposition, and often want to find out more, but when it comes time for them to dip into their wallet to buy, they decline.
Actual customers are not only interested in what you have to say about your product or service but are also willing to part with their hard earned cash to become a customer.
So what influences one group to buy while the other group declines?
The answer for many businesses lies in how engaged they are with their potential customers.
Customer engagement is critical yet so under-rated that many entrepreneurs don’t have an intentional plan to make it happen.
The fact is, in order to allow people to make a decision in your favor on something as emotional and provocative as money, you need to foster the right feelings and emotions.
There are three components to developing better customer engagement to get them to buy from you.
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1. Demonstrate You Have Empathy for Their Circumstances
The beginning of any business-customer relationship needs to start with empathy. Being able to show a potential customer that you understand what their problem is and how it is impacting them in all areas of their lives is a critical first step to ensuring that they want to engage with you. Otherwise, why would they even care?
In order to demonstrate empathy with a customer, you have to sincerely appreciate what they are going through and understand the level of impact it is having on their life.
Many businesses are created as a direct consequence of the founder(s) being frustrated with a particular problem themselves, which they subsequently solve. If this is you, then you ought to know exactly how to empathize with a potential customer, as you would have had the same struggles before you started your business.
If you are creating a product or service that is not derived with your personal struggles with a problem, then surveying your audience is the best way to understand the pain points and the sensitivities.
However, in my experience, even better than a text survey, is a live call (perhaps over Skype) where you can probe further with a potential customer and get to the bottom of what the real frustrations are.
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2. Explain the Benefits of Your Product or Service
After demonstrating that you understand their problem, it is important to prove straight away how you can help in the circumstances. You do this by tactfully explaining the benefits of your product or service.
The mistake many business owners make at this point is to explain all the features as opposed to discussing the benefits. Remember, features tell, but benefits sell. People have little interest in purchasing a bed. What they want is a good nights sleep.
The best example of people getting this right is in the late night infomercials we are all so used to seeing. Specific shopping channels have now been created based on the fact these ads are making sales.
Apple also did this with the iPod. Storage of 1GB of MP3s is classic features selling while Apple’s “1,000 songs in your pocket” explains the benefits so clearly that it's hard to ignore. These ads are extremely effective at selling the benefits. And in so doing, are able to coax potential customers to buy.
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3. Articulate How They Are Better With Your Solution Than Without
Assuming you have effectively been able to empathize and have explained the benefits, it is important to paint the right picture to potential customers as to why they need your product or service now.
This gets them to take action given they now believe you can help. Missing out this step is easy to do but so detrimental to you making the sale.
The most effective way to explain why they need your product or service now is to paint a picture of life with and without the proposed solution.
Any worthwhile solution ought to have any number of benefits attached to it. Maybe the product or service you are selling saves a customer time, or money, or allows them to do something that cannot currently be done.
The health and fitness industry has long made use of this technique through the customary "before" and "after" images they show. We’ve all seen the first image that shows a situation that a person was looking to improve on, for example, losing weight.
The subsequent image demonstrates how, supposedly, after consumption of whatever is being sold, or an exercise regime being followed, the desired results are achieved. Despite some marketers manipulating these results, used sincerely and in the right way, this technique is extremely effective and powerful.
By positioning your conversation with your potential customers in this way, not only will you foster strong relationships, but you will also gain their trust and make the sale.