What can help us to listen more, talk less, create better customer journeys and relationships, engage our audience and make sure our knowledge is shared and finds it’s way to new owners and new ideas?
The art of communication
We all know the feeling….
We are prepared and know the customer well.
We’ve got this.
We did our homework and have our message mapped out.
Goal in sight.
But when the meeting ends, disappointment hits us.
The knowledge we so intensely wanted to share with them – stayed with us and didn’t seem to have any effect, even though we had been talking and talking.
What went wrong?
When I was a child, even today, if someone asks me to draw a person all I can do is draw a matchstick kind of person. Two lines for arms, two for legs, a long line for the body and a circle at the top with 3 dots and smile.
Not very artistic!
I usually excuse myself by saying “But what did you expect, I’m not an artist and if I have to draw people, my variations of matchstick people, usually gets the message across.
But, there is another type of art I find much more interesting.
The art of communication.
Vocally, in writing and body language. It is said that humans communicate to request help, to inform others, and to share attitudes as a way of bonding. An art we perform daily.
With all that practice, communicating should be easy, right?
Yes – and no.
Talking is easy but creating a dialog where we talk, listen, give relevant responses and share knowledge that is interesting and useful, now that is a challenge – but not impossible.
Yes, I could have learned to draw better if I wanted to. Done research, practiced. If it was important to me.
It isn’t, so I’m happy drawing matchstick people!
We shouldn’t just want to get a message across to someone – we should create conversations where we listen and where the knowledge we share and the questions we ask are relevant, useful and easily remembered.
We can improve customer relationships and increase revenue by communicating with depth and not by just “drawing” five lines, a circle, 3 dots and a smile.
Increase customers talk time
By talking less and listening more.
Our goal is for our customers to feel understood and talk to us about what they need, based on their trust in our products, services and solutions.
Do people in general really talk too much? In an article from Nov 22, 2016 written by Chris Orlob at Gong, he refers to a survey that shows the talk/listen ratio of an average sales person. Using AI, they “analyzed recordings of 25.537 business-to-business sales conversations, averaging at 43 minutes per call.
Here are some of the results: the average B2B sales rep spends between 65-75% of a call talking, leaving only 25-35% of the call for listening. In fact, increasing the prospect’s talk time from 22% to 33% significantly boosts win-rates.”
How can we increase a customer’s talk time?
By using questions and giving them time to answer.
Prepared, insightful questions help us define our customers’ needs or challenges, build relationships with them and give us valuable knowledge. By asking instead of telling, we help our customers to reason and own the knowledge we share.
Verbal “gold miners”
We might tend to think: “the way I talk – is the way I talk, and my results are pretty good” and we might be right. My matchstick drawings are pretty good….
Our goal should be: Most of the time great!Using questions is verbal “gold mining”. Click To Tweet
We might have to ask a lot of questions and “dig” before we find “gold” – the answers we’re looking for. By giving others a chance to share their thoughts, there is a greater chance they will remember our conversation, act on it and based on the knowledge they acquire – trust us as a reliable supplier.
Verbally “gold mining” may take longer than just doing most of the talking ourselves but when we hit “gold,” it’s worth it!
Preparation is key
The key to asking more questions and better questions, is preparation.
- Who will we be talking to?
- What kind of help do they need?
- How are they using the tools they have today?
- How can they achieve more with what they have?
- How can we help them become the hero of their industry?
- What challenges do they have?
- Which questions will engage them?
- How can we use questions to address worries or objections we predict they have, even before they express these themselves? (Marcus Sheridan calls this to vanguard)
Does this mean we should just prepare a long list of questions before having a conversation with a lead or at a customer meeting and plow through them one by one?
If we ask too many questions the customer can feel interrogated. If we ask too few questions, they can feel we have limited interest.
How can we find the sweet spot of talk/listen?
Gong did another study in July 17. Using AI they analyzed 519000 calls to find the sweet spot of discovery questions, problem questions and type of call. The result is interesting because the amount and type of questions we ask, will automatically help us hit the sweet spot of the talk/listen ratio. In this survey, the top reps talk 46% and listen 54% whereas the bottom reps talk 72% and listen 28%. Or put in another way, bottom reps “drew matchstick people” and top reps are “drew like Leonardo Da Vinci!”
Getting our customers to talk more or not, doesn’t just depend on asking questions – but how we phrase them.
It goes without saying that asking a question that only needs a yes or a no as an answer, won’t get the customer talking more. Phrasing questions that demand a longer answer ensures that we talk less, the other person talks more so that valuable information and knowledge can be exchanged.
- What do you feel makes your company stand out from others?
- Can you help me understand the challenge you are having with….
- In which important areas can we help your company?
The high-jacking effect
When asking a question, it’s like we high-jack the other person’s brain.
According to Medical Daily, while we are thinking about the answer to a question, we can’t think about anything else. So by asking questions we help our audience to focus and express their thoughts.To help our customers and deserve their trust, we need to engage, entertain and get them excited about using our knowledge – to create their own ideas. What we own - we remember. What we remember - we apply. Click To Tweet
Today more than ever, customers are searching intensely for knowledge because they want to own details about what they are buying. Why they are buying it, where the best supplier is and what others are saying about what, where and when to buy.
- How to explain complicated and technical subjects and be sure they are understood?
- What is the quickest way to identify your customers pains?
- What is the customers vision and culture?
- What kind of customer journey do they expect?
- How can we get customers to remember and «own» the knowledge we share?
- How can we personalize communication with each customer?
- How can we build trust with customers?
- How can we ensure that our content and services are always relevant and useful to our customers?
By asking questions when communicating we show sincere interest in meeting our customers where they are. We help them and at the same time increase our chances of them choosing us as their trusted supplier. We love questions and dig for “gold”!
If you are ever asked to choose between a “matchstick” drawing and a beautiful drawing with depth and meaning.
We hope you choose the beautiful drawing!
Need some inspiration and help to communicate better to your customers? Feel free to look at our Conductor Workshop or even better, contact us!