Many years ago I attended a seminar that revolutionized my communication skills. I used to wonder why I “rubbed people the wrong way” or why I couldn’t remember names. Just curious but do you rely on the adage, “I just can’t remember names.”? Stop it. Now.
Okay, that was a little direct but sometimes we need to get hit in the head with a 2X4 to get it.
Tip #1 – People do things for their reasons, not yours…
Read that again. Everyone wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” So if you’re a smart communicator you will learn (usually by asking questions – and listening) what motivates your client. What do they want? Give it to them.
Tip #2 – I know you’ve heard this before…listen!
You have to be present and active when someone speaks. You not only have to hear what they say, you have to hear what they mean (refer to Tip #1 above). One of the things I do that helps me remember someone’s name is to ask them to spell it if it’s unusual or has potentially multiple ways to spell it. Even a common name like Kathy can be Cathy so you might say, “Do you spell that with a C or with a K?” Doing this makes you spend enough time on their name that you will usually remember it. Listen, one of the best things you can do that shows you that someone is important to you is to remember them by their name.
Tip #3 – Learn the skill of asking questions…
Questions are the answer. All great communicators know how and when to ask the right questions. There are two types of questions, one is open-ended and the other is closed. Open-ended questions get you more information and usually start with who, what, why, where, when, and how. Closed questions get a yes or no. Sometimes you want a yes or no but most of the time you want more information so remember to ask open-ended questions.
Another type of questions you can ask are ramification questions. These can reveal how much pain they have in staying in their current situation. Hear me on this…if your client has no pain they won’t make a change. If they want to improve, grow, eliminate competition or whatever, you will hear their pain. So ask questions that start out like, “How important is it for you to…?” or “What is your timetable to make (this) happen?” or maybe, “If you could realize a 20% increase in your bottom line in the next 12 months, what would you do?” I’m sure you can think of many others so start working them into your conversations.
Tip #4 – Make sure they know you care…
This may seem somewhat odd but people can tell if you’re really interested in them or just making conversation. It starts with what’s in your heart. Are you really interested in helping someone or are you in it for what you can get?
Years ago I was selling cars at a Porsche/Audi dealer in Austin, Texas and I was having a bad month it was the 20th of the month and I had only sold one vehicle. The general manager called me in his office that day and sat me down. He asked how I was doing (he already knew) and I lamented on how I needed to sell something NOW or I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills this month. He said, “Your teeth are showing.” Huh? “Your teeth are showing. You’re scaring your customers because you’re trying too hard. You need to step back and think about what you’re doing; you need to remember why you’re here…you’re here to help them. When you do you will ultimately help yourself.” He was right and I never forgot it. We serve to sell and we sell to serve.
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