Communicating Effectively with your Prospects & Customers – Part One

Communication is perhaps the most important factor that affects an organization’s growth. This effect can be either positive or negative – it could be a great building block for the organization’s growth or it could be the biggest hurdle. I posted a two-part series earlier about the importance of internal communication and the steps an organization could take to promote it. In this post, we’ll focus on external communication and how to effectively communicate with your prospects or customers (pretty much everyone at various stages in your sales funnel).

Listen, understand, and then speak: You are probably groaning at this point already. Is this the great mantra to communicate effectively, you must be thinking. We already know this, you must be saying. But you’d be surprised at the number of times people don’t follow this simple rule. Many sales reps and customer service representatives are in such a hurry to close the transaction or finish the call that they speak more than they should and they don’t nearly enough listen how much they should. Remember you are there to serve them; it’s not the other way round. Follow this simple exercise from now on whenever you engage a prospect or a customer – for the first five minutes, unless absolutely necessary, keep your questions or responses limited to single sentences. The best way to engage anyone is to give them the chance to speak and encourage them to speak by just nodding or giving monosyllabic answers.

Let them tell you what they want. Try to understand what exactly they need before you respond. Remember, communication is not just about talking. A lot if it is about listening and understanding too.

Let me end this post by giving you a small example of how not to communicate while talking to a prospect (unfortunately I was privy to this conversation at an organization I worked). The prospect, an intern at a publishing firm, wanted to know more about a particular solution. Now, the sales rep in question, without listening to her about her requirements, started talking about the solution and how it works. The intern, who’s never used the solution or anything like it before, was thoroughly confused before long and ended the call saying that she’ll get back to us.

Guess when she came back to us next. The answer, not surprisingly, is never!

We’ll see more in the next part.