Communication Lessons from a Teenager

I’ve always loved using a variety of communication methods with people, and adapting to what they use—and what the situation calls for. We are warned about the Gen Y buyer who is telephone-adverse and wants the quick, non-personal communication found digitally. Every day, customers have decisions to make. These decisions vary in magnitude. When spending a large amount of money and hoping for a strong return on investment, it’s tough for the buyer to make a confident, informed decision when left to nothing but their mobile devices.

Enter my daughter, Emily. She’s a typical 15-year-old whose favorite communication method is texting. She is also a quietly competitive athlete. A volleyball player, she recently tried out for two programs in our area. Good news: she received offers from both volleyball clubs. Bad news: she had to decide between the two within a 48-hour deadline. The offers were communicated differently. Club A’s coach called her, telling Emily they’d love to have her play on their team, and provided her phone number for a call back with questions and, hopefully, an acceptance. Club B’s coach sent an email of congratulations, offer and instructions on what she needed to do to accept or decline, which was to go online and complete a confirmation.

The emailed information from Club B was clear and efficient, and had that been her only offer, she would have been happy to accept. However, Emily had a choice between two suppliers offering a similar product: a reputable team to play on with coaches to help her develop as a player and a person. Time and physical investment would be high—the ideal ROI equaled fun, new friendships and perhaps catching the eye of a college scout in the future.

After a day of consideration, Emily picked up the phone and called the Club A coach, asking questions to better understand why she should “buy” from them, and how their product (program) could benefit her. After a brief conversation, Emily was sold and promptly accepted Club A’s offer. In her online response to Club B, declining their offer, she relayed that she’d had the opportunity to speak on the phone with the coach of another club and felt that they would be right for her. While Club B’s process was efficient and clean for seller and buyer, had they encouraged a simple conversation with their prospect, the outcome may have been different.

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