Over the next few weeks my posts will cover various topics around
communication. I have been asked by a few personal clients and colleagues to answer their
questions or comment on their concerns. So, here we go:
By now you’ve certainly read about
having solid communication skills whether you’re a seasoned sales vet or a
newly minted college grad. But, being able to verbalize clearly or give an A+
presentation to a huge audience is not all that is needed in the area of
communication with a client or prospective client.
There’s one issue that tends to creep
into the sales process more than you can imagine: the client (or prospective
client) hears only what they want to hear and not entirely what you’re saying.
Sometimes you’ll have a client (or prospective client) that will be open to you
gently correcting their “misunderstanding” and then there will be times when
you are the devil, as in how dare you tell me I’m wrong. This is where keeping
and sharing records with your client (or prospective client) pays off.
I’ve taken some sense of pride over the
years in both my ability to be an effective communicator and I believe this has
to do with how I obsess on keeping written communications with clients as much
as verbal. For all the times that I, and many other sales
managers-coaches-trainers, have said that a sales rep cannot rely solely on
email, that one must be able to communicate face-to-face and over the
telephone, there is still always a place for email (or print). Typically, this tends to
come into play when you want to ensure your notes are on track with the client
(or prospective client). It can be something as simple as a note with a few bullet
points asking, “are my notes from today’s meeting accurate, just want to make
sure”. Or, it could be something slightly more formal as in a summary sheet
typed, printed and delivered (email or face-to-face), highlighting the previous
conversations so as to again ensure accuracy before committing to a formal
proposal or contact.
Now, I must admit that this tactic is
not full-proof. There have been times when I’ve gone above and beyond the norm
to provide summaries in email or hard printed and the client still comes back
months later to dispute a detail in the “wait I thought I was getting X but you
sold me Y”. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. I’m still a believer
that sharing your notes, dropping a few emails back, or even the printed documentation
is a great way to cover your butt…you are also covering the clients (or
prospective clients) butt too. Keeping records and sharing records keeps you
and the client on track, on the same page, and ultimately helps ensure the
project, service, or product is what you said it would be.