George Bernard Shaw inspired this post about business sales success. When creating my latest webinar ‘Selling in a pandemic’, I was looking at the subject of communication. It is a huge one, as are many of these topics related to selling and life. I am no expert on communication in terms of it being my specialist subject, but my passion for sales being done right must incorporate a discussion around how we communicate.
Let’s start with the definition of communication.
noun – the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium
That sounds simple enough. However, the act of communication is a bit different from the art of communication. When we use the art of communication, it may take more effort than just speaking, writing or whatever your chosen method of communicating is.
‘It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it.’
What is the art of communication?
Let’s dissect the art of communication.
- Listening is crucial when communicating and I’ve written and done podcast episodes about this subject – brilliant to delve into – check out my podcast with Gayle Johnson here, great insight on that one.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” —Stephen R. Covey
- Non-verbal communication is very informative when you understand it – body language in particular. You can study this alone and learn so much.
- Language – written or the spoken word can change things in a heartbeat.
“It’s important to make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.” Barack Obama
Using emotions in your sales strategy
I often refer to emotions around communication; you can read more about that topic here. It is the place I like to start because people buy people. We buy using emotion, and sales are about know, like and trust. Get the words right and the feeling in those words right, and then you can connect on a different level.
I have created my very own acronym, using WORDS.
Let’s face it if we get this bit right we are on our way to creating the right connections and conversations to build trust and relationships.
W is for WHY
Yes, one of my favourite words right there. You can do so much with this little word in communication, and in selling, it’s essential for so many reasons.
- Why do you want to communicate?
- Why will the other person want to communicate with you?
- Why is now the right time?
- Why will someone else benefit from communicating with you?
- Why does what you have to say have value?
When I talk about the ‘why’ in sales, I’m referring to the passion behind what you do. Your belief and purpose, your joy and love for your business, and the reward you get for doing that work.
Why do you do what you do?
This is so important because if this isn’t clear to you, then any communication won’t feel authentic and genuine, so know your WHY.
Just as important, know your customer’s why too. In our current situation, there have been many people feeling lost and confused when it comes to selling and their messaging.
Should I sell? What can I say that won’t offend? How should I approach it all?
When you understand the world of the buyer, you understand their why. More importantly, even pre-pandemic, you meet your customer where they are. This shows respect and builds trust.
You see how important this little word is.
To discover how to use why most effectively – Ask. Talk. Have conversations that are real, curious and to the point. When you don’t know ask. Never assume. This is where you start with getting the most out of the why.
O is for OPEN
Some people can feel nervous about being too open. They sometimes think that they don’t want to tell everyone everything. Being open is not about telling warts and all, it is about being able to open up not only in who you show up as but also to be able to open up the person you are communicating with.
Your part in this is about opening your mind to new ways of thinking and accepting that people see things differently. As I always say, step into the world of the buyer, and don’t just dip your toe – immerse yourself!
If you show someone that you are open to discovering new thoughts and new ways of being, the people you communicate with will feel more relaxed and accepted. In these first steps, we need to allow ourselves to be non-threatening and interested in who we are communicating with. There is a vulnerability about being open that is endearing and welcoming within communication. Once you have experienced how good openness feels, there is no going back.
I am fascinated by people, and so I like to know what makes them tick and what their UHP – Unique Human Proposition® looks like; you can read more about your UHP here. Our desire to be curious will help us to open ourselves up, and our buyer will do the same. The advantage of that is huge – you are now exploring the real and honest world of the buyer. What they think, feel and need—a great place to build a long-lasting relationship from.
R is for RESONATE
What a word this is. If you’ve experienced what it is like to resonate with someone, then you will understand how valuable it can be to create something in your communication that resonates with people.
You won’t resonate with everyone, so it’s vital that you understand the audience and why you want to communicate with them. To resonate suggests that you feel something very firmly and can associate with that message or person. You understand without the need for an explanation. It is a feeling.
When I did my TEDx talk, my story was one of the strongest ways I was able to communicate with the audience. Some resonated with that story. Even if their story was not the same, they felt the same feelings, and recognised me without knowing me, because it was a mirror of them at that moment and how they had felt.
It may sound quite deep, but when it comes to communication if you can connect on that deeper level, it really can set you aside. As humans we long to be understood and if someone is talking the same language and shares similar stories as you, then there can be an instant bond.
Use your stories and empathy to create communication that resonates with your customer and their experiences, and you will be working at a different and welcome level.
D is for DELIVERY
When I talk about the delivery of communication, I refer to the big picture delivery, which consists of whom, when, and how. Let’s look at why each of these is important.
- Whom – we often talk about decision makers when we are selling, and this is valid and always has been. In old terms we would call this person the M.A.N – someone with the Money, Authority and Need. If the person you are communicating with has all three of these then you are talking to the decision maker. Beware there may be more than one decision maker so even more reason to understand the customer’s world.
- When – timing is everything. Let’s take right now, as we are currently in a pandemic. The pace and intervals of your communication will be of paramount importance. For some, they may need what you sell urgently, for others what you sell is the last thing on their mind, but they may still find it beneficial, and this is where timing comes in.
If you are dating someone at what point might you ask them to marry you? Probably not on the first date – although I have heard this happens! – but more likely you will take your time to get to know them, build trust, maybe even fall in love. Create a long term relationship to make it easy for them to buy or marry you in this case. I’ve said before that dating is very much like selling. So you see why timing is so crucial. Don’t rush, research the territory you’re in and nurture and connect.
- How – some methods of delivery are more effective than others. Our ideal in most cases as humans was face to face, but we don’t know when that will be an option again. For now, one of the most popular and well received ways to deliver communication is video. It’s the next best thing to meeting in person. We can see, hear and experience so much more with video than we can with the written text, so if you can use video as your how, then I recommend you do. The message is the most important thing, but you will have that sorted by following the tips above. Now deliver it with style using your beautiful uniqueness – your UHP®
S is for SINCERE
Everything we say has to be sincere for us to get the best out of our communication. If we are saying things for the sake of it, it will become evident. We are very conscious and today I get many messages on LinkedIn, and other channels, that start with ‘how are you? I loved your latest podcast, and I see you wrote a book – that’s brilliant…now here’s what I want to sell you. The golden rule is do not take your customer for a fool! The above example is used because I see it time and time again and when I see it, what do you imagine I think? How do I feel?
If you are genuinely interested in my book then we can have a conversation about it – I’d love that as I’d love your views on what you liked about it and whether it helped you at all…oh sorry, hang on, you haven’t read it. Ok, well not everyone will, but why then would you mention it in your communication if it is not of interest to you?
If you want to show someone that you have taken an interest in them, you have to have a genuine reason and not just because you want to sell them something. Be smarter and more sincere. Look at it as if the relationship you want to create is a two way thing and so if you learn more about them and they learn about you a few things happen.
- You may see that you have shared values and lots in common
- They will start to see the value and the UHP® that you offer
- You can soon sense whether they are actually in the market for your product or service
- You may find out that their network is just the place where you want a wider connection as they are your ideal clients.
- And they may have something that has value to you and that you need
Oh, the possibilities!
The sincerity that takes place in this whole natural process is lovely.
So now you have a great focus using WORDS to ensure that you think differently when you communicate with your prospective buyers.
Life skills are sales skills as I always say, so master the art of communication, and you will see a huge difference in how you build your audience and, in turn, your business.
You might be wondering how George Bernard Shaw influenced this blog…well he said,
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
Don’t be the one under any illusions – be like George!
Want to learn more about using your communication skills? Get my FREE sales road map to help you sell with confidence here.