How are your conversation skills?
We’ve talked at length already about the importance of developing a relationship with your customer – being a great communicator is key to that. But its importance doesn’t end there. Effective communication is vital when building a strong company and if sales and marketing aren’t talking, or if your salespeople are determined to be lone wolves, that’s a problem.
So what makes a salesperson a great communicator? We’ve listed five elements that we think are integral to a great conversation.
It sounds pretty basic but a lot of people fall into the habit of using the time when the other person is talking to think about what to say next. This behavior is particularly prevalent in high-pressure situations like sales meetings, when you’re worrying over how best to get your point across, and it’s totally counter-productive. The only way your conversation can truly progress is to actually pay attention to what your conversation partner is saying. This is as true for sales conversations as it is for conversations with your colleague or even your spouse. If you’re not listening to what they’re saying, you can’t be sure that you’re on the same page. And if you’re not on the same page, you’re not going to convince them of anything.
A good communicator can draw even the most reluctant prospect into conversation. The best place to start? With them, of course. We already know that we’re making the customer and not the product the center of our business, so let’s start as we mean to go on by making the prospect the focus of the conversation. Ask questions and actively listen to the answers. Most people quite like to talk about themselves and all the time they’re talking you’re learning how best you can add value to their business.
Develop the relationship
The other payoff of learning about your customer is that you’re likely to find common ground. Kids, hobbies, pets can all give you a starting point for future conversations that avoids you jumping straight into talking shop and strengthens your relationship. Getting to know both customers and colleagues on a personal level – even if only superficially so – not only makes it easier to communicate, but gives you a reason to check in with them. A quick email to say ‘Saw the game last night and thought of you’, or ‘How did Ben’s party go?’ shows that you’re thinking of them and that you care. That level of personal attention makes them more likely to think of you when they need something.
A lot of our communication is digital these days and that’s both a blessing and a curse. Obviously digital communication is a huge time-saver – and we can speak to many more people than we ever could in person. However, even with all the emojis in the world, email lacks the non-verbal communication we rely on in ‘real life’. That’s one of the reasons we’re huge advocates of the face-to-face meeting.
Body language is so important. Your posture, your gestures, your facial expression and the tone of your voice give your message both context and weight. Not only that, but when you sit down with somebody you also have the opportunity to assess their non-verbal cues. How are they receiving your message? Does their body language match what they’re telling you? As well as actively listening you also need to be actively watching. As you gauge their reaction to what you’re saying you have the opportunity to tweak your message according to how it is being received.
Nothing but the truth
We’ve said it before and we’ll definitely say it again, the key to all successful relationships is trust, and honesty is essential to that. Whether you’re talking to a colleague or a customer, it’s in your interests to be honest and transparent. These days, it never takes long for a ‘non-fact’ to be discovered and it’s difficult to come back from that. Try to be clear as far as is possible in what you’re saying, and don’t allow yourself to get carried away with the truth. In addition, it’s worth checking with your audience that your message is being received – it’s ok to ask if you’re explaining it well. Likewise, don’t be afraid to repeat your audience’s statements back to them for clarification to avoid any miscommunication.
A positive attitude
This could be number six in our list, since nobody wants to talk to a Moaning Myrtle. But it’s not only your energy going into the conversation that we’re thinking of here; it’s your entire attitude towards communications generally. If you think that sales conversations or in-house meetings are hard work, this may not be the industry for you. You need to love communicating and you need to be able to see the value in it. Every conversation with a customer is a learning opportunity and every conversation with a colleague is a chance to improve the way your business operates.
If sales and marketing are having difficulty coming together, it may be that you need a sales enablement platform to help bring the two departments into alignment. Giving each the opportunity to engage in the other’s domain helps to bring greater understanding and will ultimately lead to more effective communications both within the office and while out on the road.
What aspect of communication do you think matters most in a sales meeting? We’d love to hear your thoughts!
If you’d like to know more about how iPresent can help your sales and marketing departments communicate better, get in touch with us today.