The world of business can be tricky to navigate. Sure, you have a great product, but now you must procure and retain clients. And that can be like navigating a minefield. Each customer brings a different personality and expectations to manage.
Because so many companies are vying for business, the slightest misstep can sink an enterprise. Here some basics to keep in mind, including what to never say to clients, no matter how well you think you know them.
1. Can I give you a lift in my new Bentley? You want clients to think you're the best at what you do and successful. But you don’t want them to think that they are overpaying to support your extravagances.
Some of this involves jealousy. If the client is not driving a fancy car, he or she doesn’t want to know that you do. The customer might imagine that maybe the reason you can afford such expensive toys is that you overcharge for services.
2. Your current supplier or vendor is terrible. Never ever badmouth the competition no matter what you know or think about that firm because you won’t come off well. It can look like sour grapes.
3. You don’t want that. You want this other thing. Always give clients what they want. No matter what they say, people generally think what they want is right. Saying that they're wrong may only offend them -- and make them want to take their business to a salesperson who will give them what they seek. You can always propose an additional option to consider, but present it with a light touch. Ultimately, it’s the clients' choice and you can live with the outcome if they can.
4. Did I ever tell you about my crazy, drunken weekend in Las Vegas? There’s bonding and then there’s sharing too much information (or TMI). Sure, the client will laugh heartily at how you became so drunk that you forgot which hotel room to return to.
But then the customer will question your discretion and professionalism. Even when you have quasi-social relationship with a customer, don’t make the conversation too personal too soon. It's fine to ask about a client's family or a vacation, but don't delve too deeply. And don’t discuss sex, politics or religion right off the bat.
5. I heard your co-worker is seeking a divorce. Don’t gossip. Period. This shows a lack of discretion and if you talk freely about another person, a client might assume that you also talk about him or her. (Think about it: What's your reaction when you hear someone whom you don’t know very well make a negative remark about another person?) If you must discuss people you both know, find something positive to say. You will come across as upbeat, friendly and professional -- someone a customer wants to be around.
The bottom line is really pretty simple: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Or more simply: Keep your mouth shut and a smile on your face.