Effective communication is essential in building rapport and closing sales. Here are some of the most common bad communication habits that I’ve come across. If you identify with any of these, make it a point to work on changing your behavior:
- Multitasking while on the phone: The person on the other end of the line will be able to sense that you’re not fully engaged, and you won’t be able to converse intelligently. They won’t know whether you’re writing an email or doing a crossword puzzle, but they’ll be offended. It’s especially obvious if you ask them to repeat a question (because you weren’t listening). They’ll think you have little respect for them and as a result, they’ll have less respect for you.
- Interrupting: Some prospects may be overzealous talkers. You might have the urge to cut them off and get to the point; however, doing so can jeopardize rapport.
- Dominating discussions: People like to express their opinions, ask questions, and know that they’re being listened to. A one-way conversation is a dead-end street.
- Using too much text: This goes for all forms of written communication. The average person can’t read more than a couple hundred words a minute, which means that if you have a proposal with very thin margins, single-spaced lines, and multiple pages, it could theoretically take a person several hours to go through. Nobody has several hours to read a proposal. Few have the patience to read a letter or email that takes more than a minute to read. Given the platforms that people use for reading these days (think smartphones and tablets), anything over 100 words is likely to be “set aside for later,” which in most cases translates to “ignored.”
- Starting a conversation with your most important item: Let’s say that a customer you’re currently doing business with owes you money on an overdue invoice. Are you going to call him and immediately say, “I’m calling about that overdue invoice,” or are you first going to provide answers to everything that he’s requested from you lately, and then at the end of a conversation mention the invoice? The correct answer is the latter, of course. If you focus your attention on helping your customer before inquiring about the overdue payment, you’ll greatly increase the likelihood that he’ll chase down that payment for you… He might even offer to overnight it (once he convinces his Accounting Department to write the check now rather than waiting for the next check run). The same logic applies to other situations… say, asking for another contact in the client’s organization who might help you advance your account development plans.
- Taking too much time to get to the point: Knowing what can be cut out from a discussion is as important (if not more important) than knowing what should be included. To use a radio analogy, it’s like having more noise than signal – you want the signal, but you don’t want the noise. Avoid clouding the conversation with anything that is not going to help you achieve your goal.