Communication… A word we throw around quite a bit but can often not fully understand.
When we “communicate” with clients, do we speak to be understood or do we speak to be heard? The difference is extreme and misunderstanding the two is sure to cost your business greatly.
You or someone in your business (let’s say it’s someone else… Of course this has never happened to you ;-)). So someone in your business is working hard to win over a client. Their business development process is on point, they are diligent with their sales calls, take the client out for lunch and do all of the necessary follow-ups to keep themselves and the business front of mind. Finally the day arrives, the client is impressed with their tenacity, a need has arisen and they’ve decided to give your business a chance.
Filled with excitement and enthusiasm, this person takes a brief, tells the client they will wow the pants off them, asks few questions and sets about putting together a solution.
They present the solution, the client agrees and then doesn’t hear from this person again for weeks. When they check in again the client is irritated and unimpressed with many facets of the project.
Maybe your team had been working hard in the background putting together this solution, but your client didn’t know this. In their mind you got what you wanted and dropped the ball. You had communicated the sum of the project but failed to hold their hand through the process. You (oops, your colleague, sorry) took for granted that you know what happens next but forgot to tell them.
The client ends up pulling the work or you face hiccups at every stage, the process is uncomfortable and reflects badly on your business…. And it all could have looked very different if you had just thought about better communication.
It is human nature to want reassurance. Even as a business, when we deal with other businesses we want someone to take our hand and walk us through step by step what we can expect of them. We do not like surprises and we don’t like being swept up by good salesmanship and then having that disappear once a contract is signed.
This is intentionally number one! Communication is a two way street and clients will often not tell you everything straight away. If they are hesitant on something, their first reason is often not the root of the issue. Likewise when discussing campaign objectives; there is always more behind the obvious.
If you are not present and truly listening and looking deeper within all of your communication you will miss each opportunity to improve your relationships and better understand your clients.
Transparency is key in communication. If you are not open and transparent, you may be talking but you are not communicating.
Talk through next steps with your clients. Hold their hand and ensure they can visualise the entire process, step by step for the whole of your engagement.
After talking through what each step will look like, take each of those steps as an opportunity to check in. Prior to the next phase, confirm your client is aware you are approaching this phase; confirm they are happy with the timing, the details and everyone in their team is on board.
Keeping a continuous feedback loop allows the opportunity for clients to tell you if there is something they want you to do differently, or something they love that they want you to keep doing.
If you aren’t asking for feedback you are assuming… You know they say about those who assume.
No two people are the same. It is easy to assume that because you know what your talking about, someone else would, too.
Put yourself in their shoes; think of their level of understanding; their workload, are they busy? What usually gets them engaged?
Communication is a dance to understand and to be understood. The mastery of this skill is the core of every strong relationship. Want to keep your clients coming back for more? Show them that you understand them and ensure that they understand you.