by Diana Dorell
Take it from a relationship expert who is an entrepreneur: Finding your ideal customer in business is not so different than dating. We date and do business with people we know, like and trust. But how do you build a solid connection and make sure your conversation takes you from the first date to the second, third, fourth one and eventually a long-term commitment?
It’s easier than you think.
Here are five key tips from the dating world that, when used effectively, can translate to happier customers, more authentic connections and increased sales.
Make it about them, not about you
Have you ever been on a date and the guy or girl just keeps talking and talking about themselves, leaving you struggling to get a word in or even ask a question?
The same situation occurs with your prospective clients and customers. They are used to salespeople being in their face and pushing their products and agendas. Set yourself apart from the crowd by focusing on the customer's challenges and desires. It’s the difference between saying, “Here’s what my credentials are and here’s how you can pay me," and asking, "“What do you want and how can I help you get that?”
Dress the part and be aligned
Who do you want to go out with more: the guy who shows up with messy hair and flip flops, or the guy who gets there five minutes early to grab a table and is wearing a shirt without wrinkles or stains? What about the dating profile of the hot guy who ends up being 30 pounds heavier and 10 years older than his picture? Doesn’t false representation make you want to run the other way?
Yes, you want to be respected for your expertise and your success stories. But as a business owner, appearances matter—whether we're talking about your website, your email signature or your personal appearance.
Take the time to dress and present your business in a way that exudes confidence and that makes you feel like the person you love being. The person who is going to deliver and stand for something—that’s the person who closes the sale. It has nothing to do with how expensive your clothes are or how much you spent on your website.
Then ask yourself: Are the elements of how you present yourself in alignment with each other, or are you giving mixed messages?
If your website has a contact form that doesn’t work or your email signature is linked to your old business that no longer exists, new prospects will sense a disconnect and stay away.
And an extra tip for those who work from home: Even if you’re just on the phone, wearing something in which you feel confident and creative gives off an energy that people can sense on the phone.
Find common ground
People feel more comfortable around you if they feel you are like them in some way. On a date, if a guy is really listening, he’ll bring up a topic you mentioned earlier and find a clever way to connect it to something in his life. Example: You said you love Italian food. He says, “My uncle is Italian and I loved watching him cook meatballs. What’s your favorite Italian dish?” How this lands: You are like me. You were listening to me. I like you. Now I want to know more.
It’s the same when you’re doing business. Do your research on prospective customers to see what you might have in common. You may even have a contact or resource that could help them. Offering that resource builds your credibility and shows that you are a generous person, and credibility and generosity are both essential pieces to creating a strong and lasting business foundation.
Be transparent from the start
How many times have we heard about a person coming off a breakup who says, “I don’t understand why this happened. I thought that because we were in love, I could change them.”
That person could have been saved a lot of heartache by understanding that when some couples simply aren't compatible, it's time to move on. It’s the same in business. You have to know what you can offer a prospect, communicate it clearly and move the action forward—or not at all.
What this looks like in practice is answering questions honestly, making sure your pricing and rates are clear, what your policies are, what your services do—and don't—include, and most importantly, what they can expect when they work with you.
If you are the right person your customer, say so. Make sure customers feel 100 percent clear on what you are helping them with, how you’ll do it and what the next step is in the process.
Know your deal-breakers and trust your gut
If you know what you want, you probably also know what you don’t want. I call this knowing your deal-breakers—what you will absolutely never accept in a relationship. If these factors aren't right, you know you would be compromising yourself.
Some common deal-breakers in business include customers who want free advice at all hours of your work week, customers who don’t pay you and customers who can’t keep their commitments.
Don’t sign a new client who is giving you red flags in an initial consult because you need the money. If you can genuinely help someone get results or help them with a challenge, move ahead.
But if your intuition is talking to you and there’s something wrong you can’t quite put your finger on, ask more questions or gracefully refer that person elsewhere. You will create more space for ideal clients who you do your best work with.
With a little practice, you’ll be on your way to building solid relationships with your ideal clients and customers.
Diana Dorell is a third-generation healer, certified Angel Therapy Practitioner with Doreen Virtue, numerologist, Reiki Master and former radio host. Diana helps powerful women feel confident and magnetic in their relationships, starting with themselves! She’s the founder of the Angel Reiki Renewal Institute, has led workshops on how to trust your intuition all over the United States and was recently a speaker at the State of Now #140conf in New York City along with Deepak Chopra, Ann Curry and others. She's passionate about helping people connect with their intuition and helping them have amazing relationships.