Have a Conversation
One of the key points that I try to make when discussing the new rules of marketing and about the transformations taking place in business today is that it is no longer about "campaigns," it is about having "conversations."
What exactly is a conversation? How good are you at starting one? So many sales people are anxious to talk or to make a presentation or even have "small talk." Today if you want to build your business, your marketing should be a strong dose of conversations.
Conversations are interactive communication where each person is responding and providing feedback to what has been previously said. There should be an element of spontaneity as well, allowing for some unpredictable directions but proceeding to a better understanding between the parties. They should also be polite and respectful with careful and conscious listening.
Becoming astute at the art of conversation will make you a better marketer and a better business partner. Your clients will perceive you as brilliant when you can help them express where their challenges and pain points are and you are actually listening for understanding.
A good conversation with a new prospect can become the beginning of a deeper relationship, which leads to loyalty and long-term value. Interestingly and perhaps a bit ironically, the best conversationalists often say the least. They ask the other about the most important things to that person and demonstrate authentic caring in the responses that they hear in response.
If all of your professional training has been sales training, perhaps it is time for you to relearn the art of conversation. Sharing information with caring and service in mind could become your best marketing tool in this brave new world.
You can improve your conversations by practicing these few best practices:
- Learn about the person before you first meet them. Google them. Look them up on LinkedIn. Don't be a stalker but find some good starting points for a conversation.
- Ask questions that pertain to them, to their favorite activities, to their best moments at work, to the accomplishments that they are most proud of. Move the questions around areas of their work or business where you may find places to serve.
- Practice active listening with eye contact, by paraphrasing and asking clarifying questions.
- Fear not the silence. If there is a lull, try to add to their point and share something personal and then ask another question.
- Be respectful of their time. Try to wrap it up if the conversation is not productive for both of you. But remember the feeling you leave them with is your most important leave behind.