When I started my new business in the hospitality industry, there was one question that I had to answer: “How do I get customers to retain my services?” As I have progressed over the past 10 years, it is also the question I am asked most by people who are considering being an entrepreneur in the hospitality industry.
First, you must understand what you are selling…change. You are asking the customer to change the way they currently do business to now include an outside partner. The biggest hurdle to overcome with the customer is status quo.
Second, imagine for a moment there was one account that could change everything for you and your new business. There is one customer, who, with a signature, or a handshake, could completely alter the course of your business. Maybe this is an organization with a large annual meeting, sales conference, or a series of training meetings. All they need to do is “say the word”.
Would you do some homework before you sat down with them and asked them to retain you?
Would it be valuable for you to find out all you could about the organization?
Would it be valuable for you to find out all you could about the person you will be meeting with?
Would your knowledge of their behavior, their desires and their decision-making process help you convince them to work with you?
Knowing your prospective accounts and customers is the key to attracting better quality customers in greater volume. Let me break it down for you in five easy steps.
Step 1: Learn what your customer wants.
People make decisions because they want something. This is different from needing something. My best friend needs to stop smoking but he doesn’t want to. It is most important to remember that it is what they want that matters…not what we want.
Step 2: Learn why they want this.
Customers want things for two reasons:
1). They want to avoid risk and/or
2) They want to find a better/easier way to achieve the desired results. You need to find out why the customer wants this by asking thought-provoking questions.
Step 3: Learn how filling this want makes the customer feel.
There are two reasons a customer is willing to hire an outside consultant: to minimize risk and a desire for more. Think about that. Your customer is either afraid something bad will happen (or something bad is happening) or they want to gain more from his present situation.
Human beings do not act based on logic and reason. They act based upon emotion. If you get the best result, how will the customer feel?
Step 4: Position yourself as the perfect solution for addressing this want.
Paint a picture of what life will be like for your customer and their organization if they retain the wrong partner. Do this by uncovering their current situation and make certain they understand the full impact of the selection process.
Next, share with the customer, the criteria for selecting the right partner. What skills should the partner have? What experience should the ideal partner possess? What questions should the customer be asking before making a hiring decision?
Step 5: Ask the customer to trust you.
Share your background with the prospective customer. Highlight a few accounts that you work with and how you have solved their needs. Demonstrate how you will do the same for them. Then ask the customer to place their trust in you.
Five simple steps to getting retained. That’s all there is too it. Whenever I share these steps with a potential new team member or potential entrepreneur, I inevitability receive a variation of the same question:
Can thinking differently really be the answer?
I challenge you to try it and see for yourself the results you will achieve.