Do You Hear What I Hear?

marketing planListeningMaking your verbal and written sales communications more engaging in a digital world so buyers take action

The explosion of electronic communication is both a blessing and a curse to our culture. On one hand, it allows people to be continuously connected, which should allow marketers greater and more personal reach when properly managed. The downside is it may also be hampering true communication – in its best model – constituting a mixture of verbal and visual messages.

E-mail may have been the tip of the iceberg when it forced many of us to relinquish the telephone for the keyboard. While this perennial shift to electronic communication is not necessarily a bad thing, it may be stifling our speech. Non-verbal communication is another crucial area afflicted by our new-found communication habits. An astute salesperson can always “read” how a customer reacts to a proposal or price and adjust his next move accordingly. Type on a screen does not allow for this. Although the phone call still provides some level of added feedback, this piece of the technology puzzle is also on the decline.

Adjusting Sales Communications Skills

So what does all this mean to businesses and marketers? It requires us to hone a new set of skills in order to continue to be effective. The most notable skill is that of LISTENING, which can actually extend to reading an email or text message. Behavioral experts recommend mirroring the other person’s tone, speech and physical gestures. This can be a real challenge with written communications.

A customer’s choice of written words and phrases will not only provide insight on what he is actually looking to accomplish (duh), but can also reveal the best way for you to communicate in order to get him further engaged – and, hopefully, make a commitment to meet, take action, or buy.

Here are three suggestions that may help in your written, phone and physical communications:

1. Start with a name.
People love to hear their name; ask for a name every new phone call you get. It’s not invasive if you ask for it properly and genuinely. For example, “I’d be happy to get you an answer to that question. Who do I have the pleasure of speaking with?” Likewise, politeness says to use that person’s name to open up your email response. (This does not apply in the texting world.)

2. Answer the question with a question of your own.
Don’t just spew out a response to try to show how smart you are. For example, if someone asks the weight of something, don’t just respond with “about 150 pounds.” Instead, use their question to probe deeper. “I believe it’s about 150 pounds. Is the weight a concern for you?”

3. Close your communication with a question or defined next step.
Even though today’s buyers are largely driving the sales process, you still need to provide direction for what you’d like them to do next. The goal with your electronic communication response should be to move her to the telephone. For example, “There are three engine choices on that model. I can help with that. Can we spend four minutes on the phone?”

Watch for the next article in which we will explore some tips on body language.

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Jeff Scherer

Director of Client Strategy at Lifestyle Integrated Inc.
Jeff is a seasoned marketing professional who's been working in the digital space for over 16 years. He has built successful online marketing platforms with many large businesses including AutoNation, MarineMax, and Tracker Marine Group and presently supports many OEM clients and dealer networks at Lifestyle Integrated Inc. He also founded Teletraxx - a leading call management platform. Today Jeff works closely with many OEMs and their dealer networks.

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