Open more conversations with respect
The other day one of the General Managers of a company I’ve been working with received an email from a service provider that was a competitor to one of the providers the company has been using.
The email’s purpose was to start a conversation with the company and create the opportunity to demonstrate the service provider’s expertise/add some value. This email was the third and the company had replied in the past that it wasn’t the right time to discuss certain matters with this service provider.
The email roughly went like this:
With the recent requirement changes relating to TOPIC there may be additional reporting obligations that you may not be aware of.
We would love the opportunity to provide a workshop to the team at COMPANY and share our knowledge on these changes with you. The workshop will go through the recent requirement changes and how it applies to COMPANY.
We’d also like to get an understanding of your business and processes so we can tailor the workshop so it would be good to have a chat with you prior.
Would you please let me know when would be a good time for your whole team to come to the workshop?
Client development executive
The General Manager of the company took one look at this email and instructed a member of her team to reply with a polite “no”. In addition, the General Manager told me that this email has made her not want to work with this service provider in the future. That is, this Client Development Executive shut the door to a potential client relationship just because of a lack of awareness of some simple communication pitfalls.
Wondering why? Let me explain.
Deconstructing the communication
First let me deconstruct the email (via highlighting and square brackets) so you get a sense of how the sometimes “minor” things can have a great impact on your clients perception.
With the recent requirement changes relating to TOPIC there may be additional reporting obligations that you may not be aware of [this assumes client is not aware of its obligations].
We would love the opportunity [client doesn’t care what you would love to do] to provide a workshop to the team at COMPANY and share our knowledge on these changes with you. The workshop will go through the recent requirement changes and how it applies to COMPANY.
We’d also like [once again client doesn’t care what you’d like to do] to get an understanding of your business and processes so we can tailor the workshop so it would be good to have a quick chat with you prior [asking client to share details with you before you get a foot in the door is too much commitment].
Would you please let me know when would be a good time for the team to come to the workshop and have a quick call? [Two action requests in one email is asking the client to do too much too soon] …”
Avoid making these mistakes
To avoid making the same mistakes in the above email, here are the key principles you need to remember.
1. Ask don’t assume – instead of assuming the client needs help or isn’t aware of an important piece of information, ask them!
2. Always communicate in terms of what’s in it for your client – they don’t care about what you’d like or love to do so focus on why they should care.
3. Be present to how much commitment you’re asking for – your clients’ willingness to invest their time and money in you is an indication of their commitment level. So don’t ask for too much time or information if you haven’t even managed to secure a coffee meeting.
4. Ask for one thing at a time, especially when your client has a low level of commitment – asking for more than one action at a time gives your clients an extra reason not to respond.
These are some of the principles that underpin the License to Bill 12 Step Sales Process. If you follow them, you’ll be able to open more conversations and start more client relationships. What’s more, you’ll also start relationships in the right way – one that shows you’re willing to truly listen and respect your clients.
One of the attendees from a previous training I hosted said “Jenny, I was skeptical initially but after your workshop, I can truly see how your approach applies day to day. Thank you.”