How to improve your people skills so you can have more success in your business

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by Tom Watson on May 11, 2014

It’s no secret we live in a super fast paced world that offers instant communication day or night.

As long as you have an internet connection you can talk to, order and discuss just about anything anywhere.

While this new technology has certainly changed our lives, not to mention the business landscape, the one thing that will never go out of vogue in a service based business is “person to person marketing”.

This is because virtually all sales are “personal” in nature. Even if you get a lead online you still have to meet at one point or another. I know that this “person to person” type interaction scares a lot of people but that is way you build a profitable service based business.

How to improve your people skills

There is an old saying that states “if you own a business, then YOU ARE in the “people business”. To be blunt, there is absolutely no way around it, so you need to embrace it. Your ultimate goal is to be really good at “establishing rapport with people”. Below is a big picture view of how that is accomplished…

1 – You need to find a way to CONNECT

This skill that can be improved by just being aware of what defines a connection. In my opinion this revolves around showing an interest in their core concerns. They are contacting you and your business because they have a problem of some kind, and they are looking for someone to solve it.

Try to pay attention to visual cues like facial expressions and body language plus the tone of their voice as they speak on certain topics, as that will clue you in to the importance of a given topic. This process helps you better understand their opinions and perspectives, which is key when trying to get to the bottom of a given issue.

2 – Focus on LISTENING to the customer

Far too many people worry about what to say to the customer when they should be worried about being a better listener. You need to encourage others to speak freely with you concerning their issues THEN listen intently to what they tell you. This is accomplished by asking “open ended questions” that make the person describe the issues they are having in detail.

A question like “Explain some of the problems you are having with your current company” is a good open ended question that makes them TALK in better detail. “I guess you are having problems with your current company” is closed ended, meaning it leads to a “yes or no” answer that tells you nothing.

3 – Communicate who you are and how you can help

Though you are going to spend the better part of your time with the customer simply listening, when it comes time for you to speak you need to do so in a clear and convincing manner. Speak with conviction and sincerity when describing how you can help them solve their problem. Consider sharing a story about how you helped another customer with a similar issue.

When speaking try to project an “air of confidence”. Just do your best to keep it short and to the point, as you’ll want to avoid lengthy stories that may lose their interest. While speaking make sure you make a generous amount of eye contact. Avoid getting “too technical” when speaking, as “plain talk” works best.

I’ll wrap this up by mentioning some people have great people skills just by nature, while others have to work a bit harder, but in either case we all can work at improving what we are blessed with. This process of improving your people skills is a long-term project, so don’t get frustrated!

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 pernell May 11, 2014 at 10:16 pm

any suggestions I have a new client with a brand new building is 6,800 square feet is a open concept a coworking spot he would like for me to give him a quote but the building is not complete have anyone ever experienced this.

2 Tom Watson May 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

Hi Pernell! That will happen from time to time, makes it a little harder because you can’t see the finished product. I would try to compare square footage to an existing job (try to compare apples to apples). If you had a job that was 2,266 sf, then this larger one is 3 times bigger (you get the idea, try to find “points of comparison”).

I would also find out how many people will work there (or foot traffic numbers if a retail type setting). Then factor in bathrooms (size of each etc…). It’s a little more work, but sometimes you don’t get much of a choice in who calls you. Maybe someone else will chime in with their ideas!

3 pernell May 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

hi Tom! thanks a lot for your input it was very helpful.

4 Ron May 12, 2014 at 2:48 pm

Hi Tom! Thanks for your great advice in the cleaning business. When you hand out flyers to businesses how long should you wait to follow up with them,meaning call them or stop by to talk with them in person?

5 Tom Watson May 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

You are VERY welcome Pernell!

6 Tom Watson May 12, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Hi Ron! If I was just handing them out in bulk, I didn’t really go back and try to contact them (let them contact you). That was my approach. My goal with handing out flyers was to give out TONS OF THEM. Instead of trying to go back and contact those you gave them to, I would just spend that time GIVING OUT MORE. That’s my theory anyway.

7 Ron May 13, 2014 at 12:05 pm

When getting insurance,workmans comp or bonded are you to have that before you start a building or after you get into the building? I mean what if you buy the insurance,workman comp or bonded and not be in any accounts yet?

8 Tom Watson May 13, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Hi Ron! When I first started (and it was only ME going through the start up process, no employees), I had all the insurance ready to go, but I waited until I got all my other minor stuff out of the way. The moment I started marketing and gaining interest in my services I got insured.

9 Tracy September 7, 2014 at 8:34 pm

Hi Tom, how much do I pay my employees for cleaning for me? 70/30? I feel like I make a good amount weekly but don’t show for it. Should I pay my employees weekly, daily?

10 Tom Watson September 19, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Hi Tracy! They are BIG questions. For starters, if you don’t have enough left, then you may not be charging enough, so I would take a look at that angle. I pay every two weeks at my company. Paying everyday would not be practical from a payroll perspective. Go with every week or every other.

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