It is no secret what your customers are looking for from you—whether you are selling to consumers directly or you sell business-to-business. They want communication.
Lee Iacocca once said—“Tell what you are going to say, say it, and tell them what you said.”
While there is no arguing about the fact that great communication is one of the essential keys to success, this is one area that many of us fail. And to make matters worse, many of us do no know just how critical it is to excel in this area—
- Our customers have been conditioned to expect poor communication from their providers. So this is one area in which we have the potential to exceed the expectations of our customers.
- Communication skills have slipped as we have moved into the computer age—especially verbal skills. How many sales people are excellent public speakers? What an excellent opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competition.
Of course, we must also factor in the fact that your customers remember very little of what we say. We find ourselves having to repeat key factors of the transactions we are creating. All the more reason that we must be clear, concise and absolutely timely with our communications.
In order to improve our communication skills, we must understand the skills we must have in order to communicate well. Here are some of these skills—–
- Time management skills. What does time management have to do with great communication? Have you ever not called someone back promptly because you were too busy?
- Honesty. Too many times we communicate that we can achieve too much in order to get the deal in the door. We then are put in the position of defending our results throughout the process. It is hard to communicate well when we are covering our tracks.
- The ability to overcome call reluctance. Sometimes we have the time to call someone back—but we don’t because we procrastinate. This is often true when the news is not good. Good communication means prompt communication—no matter what news we deliver.
- Public speaking skills. This is one area that many sales people are deficient. How much more effective would you be if you could speak as a leader in front of small, medium and large groups? This is certainly one place in which you can differentiate yourself from your competition.
- Writing skills. Many times we must write letters to solicit business, update our customers, prod them to action—in addition to other situations. Are your writing skills reinforcing your status as an industry expert or are they just adequate to get the job done? In this day and age it is tough to hide poor writing skills when we are sending emails on an hourly basis.
As you can see—communicating takes many skills and the factors that comprise great communication are much more complex than one would think. Because of this—improving your communication skills and results take a significant commitment. You should start with a plan. This plan should include specific actions and goals.
For example, if you are interested in honing your speaking skills you might join Toastmasters and practice presentations. The goal may be to develop a presentation and deliver it confidently within six months. In addition to the goal of delivering the presentation, you must have a goal you would like to achieve through the presentation. We lose our incentive to improve if we do not see results.
Finally, you must understand that our everyday communication must be proactive—not reactive. If we are just responding to fires and calling when we have to—we will never be delivering beyond the customer’s expectations. If you communicate information they were not expecting when they are not expecting it, you will put yourself in position to shine and develop a loyal advocate.