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Learn How Your Customers Want To Talk

Date - 15 May 2016/ Category - How To Sell
How to sell

A lead is worthless if it’s just a name and number because in order to sell to a lead you need to be able to communicate to it.

Having five leads you can’t communicate with is not as valuable as having one that you can. Great leads then aren’t just details, they are conversations; but there are multiple ways to communicate with your customers and these can change depending upon your customers circumstances.

When the next big communication innovation comes along, we’re told to resign the older forms of communication to history. There’s a sudden rush to communicate with leads via a new medium but in truth this is a falsehood that can lead to less communication because we forget that we are simply adding another string to our bow.

New forms of communication help us talk to more of our leads, but by forgetting the old ones we stand to actually talk to less.

If you read a newspaper or magazine you’d think the next big communication revolution had wiped other forms of communication from the earth but the truth is you’re just getting caught up in the PR that generates leads.

PR is spin. It’s a pre-written article or at least well written information, sent to desperate and unimaginative journalists that makes its way into mass media under the disguise of an independent article.

Much like the selection of our idols because they’re a little bit crazy, journalists simply spot a good story to sell and PR usually comes with the sellable angle already worked out. That’s all it is and in the right place it can work wonders (this isn’t a rant against PR) because people don’t even realise they are caught up in a well-oiled lead generation machine.

The problem with spin is, it’s never quite the truth. Much like history, it’s written from the perspective of the person that paid for it.

If you’re reading, listening or watching a news piece on a new product or change in consumer habits, the chances are somewhere down the line, that article has been championed or influenced by a skilled PR person.

PR people make companies with no customers, losing huge sums of money and not particularly doing anything special look like they’re next facebook; they can drum up huge sums of investment from inexperienced but wealthy investors or create leads for a vastly inferior product because to them it looks like the best.

The truth is, a new communication form will add to the methods you can use to communicate to potential customers, it will not reduce them, and despite what the perspective of the person profiting from the change will tell you.

Every day we use multiple forms of communication to talk to clients and suppliers. It could be text message, phone call, email, post, social media or PR; yet more often than not whole businesses get based around one form of communication and simply pay lip service to the rest.

We forget that people are different. Not just from each other but based upon their circumstances at any time they may prefer a different route to communicate with one another.

The reasons why we choose to communicate differently vary widely, but an easy way to understand the difference in preference is by looking at something completely different.

One of the overwhelming lessons I’ve learnt to date is that most things in life are linked and if we learn one lesson somewhere it can be linked back to something else.

So if you have a problem you’ll often find that you can learn the way forward simply by looking for the a similar problem in something completely different, learning from the solution that worked for you and just relating it back.

In order to understand just how widely communication preferences can differ then, it’s easy to simply look at somewhere else that preferences vary widely too.

Take for example someone’s choice of profession. Some people choose to teach and others choose to be accountants (I know right now you’re wondering how this relates to communication preferences but bear with me).

Accountancy and teaching are two very different job roles. One likes to create and inspire (teach) and the other likes to count and put things into boxes (account).

If I were to build a business that just encouraged people to create, the odds are it wouldn’t be something that would interest accountants, but I’d probably get a lot of teachers to buy from me.

By its very nature then, my business would exclude accountants as a client base and as such in a similar vein focusing on one type of communication can have the same exclusion effect.

Now in reality people can’t be divided so neatly but the above highlights an important point; people are different and as a result favour different products and communicative styles.

We all know accountants that are old school and ones that like computers. So why then would we only focus on one form of communication for both types of accountant? If we based a business solely around email, we’d cut out potential sales from old school accountants who preferred the phone.

For some reason, business choose ignore this basic multi-channel principal and to communicate with their customers via one channel over all others. They presume everyone is the same and in reality, we’re not. In fact our preferences change over time depending upon where and when we need help.

Take for example a business that gets leads from google, why is it the automatic assumption of 99% of service based businesses that the first thing they must do is call the lead back? Perhaps the lead chose google for a reason, to communicate and find answers through it; as such an online sales system would be more effective.

To reinforce the problem, in addition to focusing on only one type of communication, most businesses choose to only manage what they can measure; this reinforces their resolute adherence to the one communication type policy.

If a business only focuses on say postal orders, then they tend to only measure the number of postal orders they get and in effect they only seek to manage postal orders as a result, other orders are suddenly relegated to second tier.

Rather than encouraging their staff to grow their business by using other communication methods, management structures built around what they measure (e.g. postal orders) only reward orders taken by the approved method. Anything else is therefore discouraged by virtue of being less important.

If we really want to succeed in business we need to ensure that we communicate with our potential clients through multiple channels, encouraging new ones rather than stifling creativity.
This doesn’t however mean that we must use every channel. Some industries might not benefit at all from the use of channels like social media.

It’s better to do something right than do it badly. For example, a design business might do well on social media sites as their designs can inspire people via images.

In complete contrast solicitors usually fail to get much traction on social media, they have no inspiring images to post, yet more often than not you’ll see your local solicitor open an instagram account because “everyone else is”.

The curse of doing something “because everyone else is” is one of the most painful things you’ll encounter in business.

How many times have you seen businesses start new ideas only to drop them quickly?

As a general rule, the human is an intelligent being, capable of incredible feats, yet group humans together and they become sheep.

You’ll see this all the time without even thinking about it. Take for example a recent visit to a big shopping centre, how often did you see three sets of doors but everyone decided to file through just one.

Or how about when you’re queuing at passport control and everyone is stood in one line despite their being two booths open?

Being good at communicating to our customers is vital if we are to encourage new leads and sell to the ones we have – but that’s no excuse to communicate poorly in the process by spreading ourselves too thin or just doing something because it’s in fashion.

Understand your customer’s perspective and you’ll unlock the key to communicating with them effectively at the right time and via the right medium.

Chapter Summary

• Don’t assume your customers have the same communication preferences as you.
• Use all available communication channels, provided they add value.
• Understand your customers in order to find the right communication channel set.
• Businesses only manage what they can measure – this can be detrimental to encouraging change

Read our next blog post “The importance of traction”.