Imagine this: you’ve worked for hours putting together the proposal that your prospective client requested and are ready to send it. You choose what you believe to be the most efficient way to communicate—you e-mail the document. You expect that your prospect is checking e-mail regularly and will be contacting you within a few hours to seal the deal. You have a mental picture of yourself signing the contract and depositing a nice check into your account.
What you don’t know is that your prospect doesn’t check e-mail frequently. You failed to find out what form of communication this person prefers and how he wanted to receive the document. Sadly for you, your competitor is on the ball and knows. By the time your e-mail proposal is opened and read, the deal is done, but not with you.
Maybe you called the prospect, who was out of the office at the time, so you left the information on voice mail and waited all day for a response. As it turns out, he only checks voice mail once at the end of every day and returns his calls in the morning. Again, your competition knew this and sent an email instead.
We are absolutely overwhelmed with ways to transmit information. Current studies indicate that e-mail is the business communication tool of choice. However, many people still prefer the telephone, the office staple since Alexander Graham Bell first spoke to Mr. Watson from another room. The phone is no longer permanently attached to the wall nor does it reside on a desk all day. Now that phones are mobile, people carry their phones with them. Some people even wear them like an accessory.
Phones are also “smart” now so they can do everything that you used to have a landline, a computer and a fax machine for. Their latest trick is texting. Skip email. Forget calling and just send a cryptic text message. There is an entire segment of our population that does not know any other way to communicate than to text. After all, it is so convenient. You can text anytime, anywhere to almost anybody. The business person who doesn’t text is considered to be something akin to the dinosaur.
We all have our preferred means of communication. If you want to be successful, grow your business and develop good client relationships, find out how your clients want to communicate. Just because you think that e-mail is the most efficient tool doesn’t mean that your clients and prospects like to sit in front of a computer all day watching messages pour in. Some may prefer to use the phone so they can discuss issues and gauge reactions – something that is hard to do with e-mail. Others may like getting your proposal in person and would prefer a face-to-face meeting in the office or over a meal. And don’t forget that group of people who want it quick and dirty so they text all day.
Respecting your client’s preferences is not just a courtesy, it’s good business. It’s not about you; it’s about your client. How can you tell which way your client prefers to communicate? Ask. It’s as simple as that.
If you’ve emerged from the cave and think that you are now using every means available to stay in touch with and in front of your clients and prospects, there is a next level—that of social networking. I am not going to be your expert on this topic today, but I can tell you who is. Check out my friend Jerry Gitchel’s latest blog on Make Technology Work to learn how to be a savvy social networker.
Here’s to made-to-order communication!
Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.
Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions. Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.
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