Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Business Communication Lesson That Could Apply to Married Life

To explain a simple yet important concept, I’m comparing two (2) of my clients.

(NOTE: This does not make any connections to marriage…until the end.)

 “We need to communicate.”

*cue eye roll*

If you’re anything like me, you probably roll your eyes whenever you hear someone utter this phrase.  (…and UNDOUBTEDLY, you’ve heard this phrase.)

Why do we roll our eyes?

I can’t tell you why YOU roll them, but here’s why I do.

1. It’s obvious.
2. We’re heard it 1000 times—at least.
3. I already know that; it doesn’t apply to me.
4. Statistically speaking, you probably WON’T communicate with me.

Obviously, #3 is a little misguided, but I feel this way when I hear that dreaded statement.

What does it mean to “communicate?”

Now, we’re finally getting to the point of my story (that’s actually true!).

Essentially, there are two (2) ways to communicate:
1. Me sharing with you
2. Me paying attention to what you try to share with me

Most of us are aware of #1, although plenty of us are guilty.  (That—by itself—could be a topic for its own blog post.)

Many of us fail with #2, and we probably don’t realize it.

Listening: A Tale of Two Clients

Listening takes on many forms, but for this post, I’m simply referring to it as taking time to listen.

One of the things I do is generate leads for service-oriented companies.  This is a nice arrangement, because they can measure whether my service provides them value.

Client #1: The Dissatisfied Client
A salesperson sold this account for me, and I am grateful.  This person has done a lot, and I appreciate this customer giving me a chance based on what this salesperson told customer.

However, this customer is not satisfied with the results from my marketing.  Looking closely at things, I suspect a few different possibilities.  Some of these would require me to make adjustments, and other possibilities require the customer to make decisions…either about me or its internal operations.

This is understandable, because the salesperson might have sold them something a little different than what I sell.  (As I wrote that, I realize that I have another “communication issue.”)

The problem is…This customer NEVER returns my phone calls or emails when I offer to meet or talk.  I want to solve a problem, but this customer just prefers to complain.

If my estimation is correct, this customer could be spending less money and getting better value, but they won’t return my calls or emails to meet (i.e. listen).

This communication breakdown is costing them money and leads.  It’s costing me a satisfied client.

Client #2: The Extremely Satisfied Client

I have another client getting the near-identical type of service, and this customer is happy!  Seriously.

What’s the difference?

We talk to each other, and I learn more about what he wants.  Once I learn what he wants, it’s up to me to decide whether I want to provide it to him.

Regardless of my decision, it’s now on me.  He did his part—he communicated with me what he wants.

I’m constantly providing him with little “free bonuses” as part of trying to help his business.

When you communicate clearly with your customer and vendor (supplier), you get two (2) main benefits.

1. We’ll have a better chance of understanding the expectations.
2. We’re more likely to bond, improving the chances of meeting those expectations.

Put more simply, unless we’re mind readers, we can’t expect our partner to know what makes us happy.  However, the more we communicate, the better chance we have of satisfying our partner.

Sounds awfully similar to something else in life, huh?  (Marriage…and other things within the marriage.)

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