By Paige NeJame
Here in the Northeast, we’re preparing to get busy with quotes with the approach of spring. To make sure those quotes turn into sales, I meet with my staff each year at this time to review some simple rules for clear communication with customers. Consider these communication tips as you
Use in-person communication for emotionally charged situations such as sales quotes, problem-solving situations and relationship-building. Consider these tips for getting the best result from your in-person meetings:
Listen more than you speak.
Try not to use pronouns, as they tend to be confusing.
Set a time to follow-up or complete next steps.
Use the phone for times you need to gather or explain a lot of information from the other person, for example:
Pre-project calls with the customer to discuss start times and procedures.
To explain complicated product applications.
When another person is upset. Always pick up the phone for this one, even if that customer emailed you in the first place.
Consider trying my favorite tip for answering the phone: Don’t say “How are you?” or you might get a diatribe on the customer’s life. Instead ask, “How can I help you?”
Use email when you need a written record or need to spell out lots of facts, or you need a quick answer or decision.
Tips for more effective use of email:
Change the subject line EVERY TIME you reply to an email.
Skip the jargon. You should aim to write at a 7th grade reading level. This tool can help make sure your communication is clear.
Use bullet points more often than sentences. Evidence indicates that online articles are typically skimmed, and bullets help information stand out.
Outline next steps in bold.
Don’t use acronyms specific to your office or the painting industry – they are sure to be confusing to outsiders.
Skype and FaceTime Video Conferences
These free tools are great for remote staff who can’t get to the office for a one-on-one meeting, but also can be used during quotes when a customer isn’t available to meet in person. Consider using video chats for these meetings as they allow you to determine a person’s mood better than a phone, since you can read their facial expressions.
Spring is a time when haste makes waste. By slowing down and really making sure others are clear on what to do, you’ll end up completing projects faster, better and more profitably.