Whether you’re at a sales meeting, presenting to your boss, or at home with your partner, your method of communication is the biggest factor that will determine your relationship success. AKA your sales success.
Your communication style and demeanor sets the tone for how long-term your relationship may (or may not) be and the bottom line, if you’re gonna get the sale (or not).
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”
You’ve heard that statement before, and I’m sure you’ve probably used it before.
Here’s a cold hard truth: That statement is incorrect. It’s both what you say AND how you say it.
Being a great presenter and great communicator are two different things.
Presenting is a form of communicating. Your presentation – what you say and the visuals you use to deliver your message, can be prepared for each individual customer. It can be planned out, and must be thoughtful so that you are giving value in terms of the customer.
Your slides, your gestures, your poise in front of the room, your subject matter knowledge, and your confidence are all part of your presentation. Your communication – how you say it – must always be on point. You can have the best presentation, but if you don’t communicate in a way that gets the other person to listen, gets their buy-in, and gets them to want to move forward, then it doesn’t matter.
Most sales classes don’t focus on communication skills – they offer presentation skills. To be a first-class salesperson, you need both.
Here are the fundamental communication skills that you need to be a successful salesperson, and manager. What would you rate yourself on each one? What would your employees rate you? What would your customers rate you?
- First impression. Your first impression IS a part of your communication. When the customer sees you, your look and your body language, you’re already communicating to them, nonverbally, and they’re making a decision whether or not they want to listen.
- Word-itude, aka your word attitude. And speaking of word-itude, how’s your tone-itude? How do you sound to the person you’re speaking with? How do they perceive your spirit?
- Clarity. How clear is your message? How easy are you to understand? The best thing to do is offer tweet-sized bites of information in a clear and compelling manner.
- ASK questions to clarify and confirm your customer’s understanding of your message. The right questions matter – don’t ask ones you should already know from the internet. Do some research ahead of time so that you’re communicating in their language.
- “Question-silence” is golden. After you ask a question, be silent and listen for their answer. Silence can be tough, and sometimes may feel awkward. Your job is to give your prospect time to think, react and then respond. Your job is not to overcome the silence with more talk. Give your prospect a chance to talk.
- Listen. Shut up, take notes. Are you asking questions and listening to understand the answers? Are you listening actively? Active listening means you’re concentrating on their response, making direct eye contact, and taking notes. You’re both listening and trying to understand what the prospect is saying, and if he is actually interested. Prospective customers are revealing details about what they need, why they need it, and how badly they need it. Listen with the intent to customize your responses and solutions to their needs and their desires. If you do, you just might make the sale.
- Customized personalized messaging. Technical jargon that the customer won’t understand or care about is a “no-no.” Makes you look FOS and often misunderstood. From the minute you start speaking with the customer, make it about them, in language they can understand.
- Put your phone down – pay attention 100% of the time. The next time you’re in a face-to-face meeting, or at a meal, be aware of your phone manners. Do you take a call or put your phone away? The act of texting or chatting on the phone, in your presence, shows your respect factor. What’s more important than the customer who is in front of you?
RULE: If you’re expecting a call, tell your customer or prospect in advance and ask for permission. This way, there are no surprises.
- How are their facial expressions? Body language? How are they RECEIVING your communication? Are you paying attention to nonverbal cues? Are they leaning in? Looking at you? On their phone? How interested or disinterested are they? What’s not being said is usually more important than what is said.
- Watch their actions, gestures and other nonverbal cues. Silent listening, and paying attention, will help you understand the emotion behind the spoken words. Your power of focus may lead you to the sale.
- Focus on what can be done, not what can’t be done. Keep it positive. Identify the problem and then find the solution, their solution.
How did you communi-rate?
BONUS IMPACT IDEA: If you want to improve your communication skills, RECORD YOURSELF. Record your sales conversations, phone calls, and even some of your communication with your family members/spouse – use it for your personal use only – listen and create a list of what you need to do to communicate better next time. Recording yourself is the best and least expensive coaching lesson on the planet.
. . . And please don’t listen to those “experts” who tell you to mimic the other guy. Seriously?! If you were sitting across from your mimic, how much respect would you give them? Would you trust them? Would you buy from them?
Jennifer Gluckow blogs regularly at Sales In A New York Minute.