Say the Right Things at the Right Time.
Delivering the right message to your clients with each encounter is a challenge.
We may live in an age of communication devices, but all the smart phones in the world can’t tell us what to say when they ring.
In some ways, every time you talk with a client you have to perform a little. You have to be conscious of what you say and how you say it so that you connect each time.
There is an art to always saying the right thing, and like all art forms, it takes study and practice.
Listen before you talk
It starts with listening. Pay attention to the tone and tempo of the conversation of the person with whom you are engaging. If you are face to face, watch their gestures.
Be a Sherlock Holmes as you make a quick assessment. Is the person ill at ease, twitching nervously? Are they giving off an “I’m too busy to talk to you” vibe, or are they overly-fatigued and just trying to get through this meeting? Are they annoyed about something that you haven’t fathomed yet?
Are they patronizing, or blustering with their own importance? Are they humble or shy or hiding in the safe distance behind their desk?
These are all clues to consider as you approach them. The thing that people value most in any conversation is empathy. If they get a sense that you feel for them, whatever their situation is, they will instantly be more relaxed with you.
Time may be short, but stick to your process
It is normal for busy people to advise you from the outset that they will see you, but that you only have a very few minutes of their time. When you pick up that vibe, you have a tendency to rush right to your point, to quickly summarize your product or service and see if they are interested.
You must control that urge. Instead, say you are respectful of their time and grateful for the minutes allocated to you. Then ask about their business and the biggest challenge they are facing right now.
I did that once in the early days of a sales career and the business owner said: “Why would you ask that if I only gave you two minutes?”
I responded: “Because if I have two minutes, I want to listen to you for 1 ½ of them so I can better understand how my services can be part of the solution to the problems you face. I researched you and your company on the Internet, of course, so I know what you do, but I don’t know what you will be doing in the future or what you are thinking is a problem. And that’s where I can likely be the most useful, so that’s why I asked.”
He didn’t say anything for several long seconds, and I didn’t rush in to break the silence. I just sat calmly and confidently.
Then he said: “I wish even one member of my sales team thought like that.”
Then he did give me a summation of the challenges ahead, and I was able to plug in a solution to one of them. I walked away with a substantial contract and the beginning of a long business relationship that I cherish to this day.
Practice your message until it is customized to each client
Like athletes who script the details of their competition days, your business communication should also be planned with regards to the programs you are planning to sell.
To prepare myself to make it sound natural, I spent years writing scripts that covered three key points for making my point succinctly.
I kept these scripts on recipe style cards (now in my smartphone) to refresh myself before I walked into every meeting.
I had a script for the business owner who didn’t believe he needed any marketing because his product was so good it sold itself.
I had another script for the business owner who believed that nobody could understand his market like he did, and hence, he could not avail himself of outside help.
I had another script for board members of non-profit groups who wanted to ensure every penny was wisely invested and not used to buy additional services.
I wrote out likely objections and answers to those objections. I wrote out advantages of my services over other available services. I wrote out what distinguished my company from all the others.
I practiced and practiced and modified these scripts after each meeting when I could easily remember what worked or didn’t work.
Ultimately, there was virtually no situation or objection or challenge I could encounter for which I did not have a persuasive response.
Confidence comes with preparedness
With such preparedness comes an inner calmness and confidence that gives you an air of authority and value. You never look trapped or caught or desperate. You stay in control under attack, and are expansive under encouragement.
You do not sound like a taped message when you practice. I mention that because when I talked about this approach in a recent seminar, I was asked that question.
Having answers you can deliver effectively gives you the confidence to adapt easily if questions fall well into outfield. You will watch where the words land, pick them up and be ready with an answer that takes you and them right back to home plate.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 34 countries, 13 books, former radio personality, 11x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
To check out Paula’s book, “Bold Courage: How Owning Your Awesome Changes Everything” go to Amazon http://ow.ly/i8yW307ix67
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