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6 Ways to Harness the Power of Customer-Centric Selling Successful business leaders understand that they should never underestimate the power of their most important ingredient -- the customers.

By Faiza Hughell Edited by Jessica Thomas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Catering to customers today looks a lot different than it once did. Back then, an initial client interaction would be the first face-to-face meeting or phone call — and those interactions usually would end as soon as the sale was final.

But times have changed, and the initial customer interaction now takes place well before any touch point. Getting to know customers and nurturing those relationships is crucial to not only the longevity of your revenue stream, but also to the strength of your brand.

Related: The Real ROI Of Being Customer-Centric

By placing customers at the heart of your selling strategy, you foster a relationship where those customers feel valued and heard, and where they feel their needs are being met during every step of the sales process. By listening to what they need and catering to their timelines, you become a genuine partner, as opposed to a pesky salesperson just looking to close a deal.

This methodology is called customer-centric selling.

Here are six ways you can put your customer at the center.

1. Get to know your customers

Buyers respond best when they feel that an offer is tailored to them. In fact, according to Accenture, 75 percent of people will buy from a brand that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases and knows their purchase histories.

And that's just the start.

If you're trying to make your prospects feel heard and engaged, it's helpful to be able to see how they've engaged with your brand. Knowing which blog posts they've read, questions they've asked and emails they've opened can all provide insight for the sales process.

2. Value their time: Call as soon as possible

In sales, the early bird really does get the worm. If you call a lead within five minutes of them expressing interest in your product, you're 100 times more likely to make contact and 21 times more likely to qualify them. So when someone contacts your sales org, it's crucial to reach out as soon as you can.

Related: How to Empower Your Employees to Be More Customer-Centric

3. Localize your business

What's your first thought when you see a call from a toll-free number? You assume it's spam, right? Most people do. Only 7 percent of people answer calls from unknown or toll-free numbers.

If you want prospects to answer your calls, you need a local number. Calling from a local number puts your prospect at ease. It presents them with something familiar and known and will make them more likely to pick up.

4. Listen to their needs

There is nothing a customer hates more than a pushy salesperson who automatically goes into a pitch. Listening is so valuable. Find out what issues your prospect is experiencing, and identify how your products or services can help as opposed to forcing your solution to fit their needs.

5. Empathize with your customer

In sales, empathy is incredibly important. Put yourself in your prospect's shoes to better understand their struggles, and use that knowledge to focus on how you sell your product or how you can best tailor your offering to their unique situations. Typically, there is no one-size-fits-all solution anyway, and this makes your customers feel incredibly valued.

6. Create long-lasting relationships with your customers

As mentioned earlier, to build a lasting relationship with customers, you have to start before you even have an interaction with them. But I will go further to say that the post-sale relationship is even more important. Often, customers feel abandoned once a deal is closed. Thriving companies differentiate themselves by providing excellent service. This is the key to unlocking a continuous revenue stream and realizing the power of referrals.

At the end of the day, you must remember that to become your customer's most trusted advisor, you will need to be with them on a continuous journey. This doesn't happen instantaneously, nor does it end as soon as the sale is made. You need to get to know them through all their ups and downs and evolve your offering as much as you can to address their current needs.

Related: Could Your Company Be More Customer-Centric?

Faiza Hughell

Senior Vice President, Small Business, RingCentral

Faiza Hughell is the senior vice president of small business at RingCentral, where she is responsible for the growth of RingCentral’s small business customer base worldwide. Her passion is centered around empowering her customers and teams.

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