12 Secrets of Effective Business Communication

16 Apr

Effective communication remains key to doing successful business. One’s talent will always be limited to by the way these talents are promoted via communication with clients and colleagues, so it is pivotal to master this art. The following five areas are the principal areas where communication is essential:

  • Pitching potential clients
  • Client meetings
  • Customer service
  • Face-to-face networking
  • Marketing your business

Spanning these categories is a list of 12 secrets of effective business communication that any strategic businessperson should strive to live by.

Pitching Potential Clients

1.     Ask the Right Questions

When selling your services to a potential client, you must approach your pitch with a customer-centric focus. Know how your product or service will best serve the needs of the client, as opposed to pitching what you believe to be the benefits of what you have to offer. Thus, asking the right questions of the client in order to have a better understanding of his needs will serve you well in the long run.

2.     Communicate Professionally

Though it may sound obvious, having a professional email address, proofreading all written material you produce, and speaking with credibility and articulation will set you apart from the countless others who still do not adopt these best practices.

A professional email signature could look like this:

Name

Company | Website

Email | Phone number

Client Meetings

3.     Schedule and Prepare Thoroughly

While scheduling client meetings in advance tends to be a natural and widely accepted practice, planning highly successful meetings requires certain nuance practices in addition to the obvious. Namely, one should create an agenda for the meeting that he or she sends to the client ahead of time to ensure both parties can be fully prepared. Also, sending a reminder about the meeting shows not only that the meeting is important to you but also eliminates any potential errors in planning that may arise.

4.     Speak, Pause, Listen

In the meeting, people have the tendency to rush through their list of ideas to ensure everything gets communicated to the client. However, the client may end up feeling as though his opinion is being neglected, so it is important to eliminate all distractions in the room and focus directly on maintaining a give-and-take conversation between yourself and the client.

5.     Follow Up in Writing

Take notes during the meeting and utilize them to create a summary document that covers the following: what was agreed, questions raised, next steps and responsibilities. Next, send this to the client and ask for feedback so that both parties are involved in nailing down the meeting’s take-aways.

Customer Service

6.     Ask for Feedback

Maintain long-term relationships with clients by asking them regularly how they are feeling about your products or services. The format is less important, as optimal feedback surveys differ from business to business. Continually improving your surveys is all that matters, and the best places to conduct surveys are through PollDaddy, SurveyMonkey, and Zoomerang.

7.     Address Problems

Responding to unhappy clients effectively and in as little time as possible shows that you are not only accepting responsibility for their unhappiness when applicable but also that rectifying their issues is important to you. More formalized project plans should be developed to fix situations in which clients remain unhappy even after you have initially responded to their problems.

8.     Try a New Format

Perhaps changing from email communication to a simple phone call in some cases is all that it takes to address an issue a client may be having. With the amount of email communication in our world today, miscommunication is inevitable, but staying tied to your email is not, as this is a choice.

Rule of thumb:

  • One screen-full of information or less can be addressed via email
  • Anything that takes up more space should be handled via phone call

Face-to-Face Networking

9.     Communicate Confidently

Confidence is not limited to the words you speak, but it extends to your physicality as well. Also, practicing your introductions with someone you know and trust prior to a networking event can be a really helpful practice.

Confident body language tips:

  • Shake hands firmly
  • Smile
  • Make eye contact
  • Bring business cards

10.  Prepare an Elevator Speech

Your elevator speech is a 30-second pitch that shows how your product or service solves a problem for the audience you wish to target. It should be attention grabbing, yet professional and always rehearsed before any event. Honing this speech will make for highly productive first impressions and conversations.

Marketing Your Services

11.  Be Responsive

If you use social media outlets to advertise your business, be responsive to the posts and tweets of your customers. Address complaints quickly and tactfully, avoiding confrontation. When contacted offline, responding quickly and professionally usually equates to success.

12.  Write Well

Your marketing copy should be clear, concise, and action-provoking. Hiring someone to either proofread or create a marketing copy can be useful if writing is not your strength. Finally, highlighting and taking notes on what you deem highly admirable marketing copies will allow you to determine best practices.

by Elise Tanner

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2 Responses to “12 Secrets of Effective Business Communication”

  1. Michelle Chen April 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm #

    Great post Elise! I always have difficulty with face-to-face networking because it is just so intimidating! I definitely think that the hand shake and smile sets the tone for these networking conversations. Body language seems easy to have control over but it really takes time to practice those little gestures but they really do pay off.

  2. Max Franklin April 16, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    One hard thing to do as a manager is to not become frustrated with people who call with complaints. Sometimes they can be illogical and rude in demanding what they want. I know from personal experience that they majority of the time it is easier to give in and simply offer a free product, yet many managers play hardball and refuse to give in to the customer. One additional piece of advice is that giving the customer what he or she wants may seem like an initial loss, but if that person does not get his or her way, he or she may go and tell many people how awful your company is. The long term affects of not giving in to the client may result in much worse than simply offer the disgruntled client a free product.

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