As a small business owner or solopreneur, your communications skills – or lack of – can directly affect your bottom line. Professionals with a flair for engaging people and getting their message across clearly have more success in building relationships and converting leads to clients. Some people seem to be born with those interpersonal gifts, but what if they don’t come quite as naturally to you?
Don’t be discouraged! You don’t have to be an accomplished writer, polished speaker or master networker to communicate effectively. By ensuring that one single element is at the foundation of all your business interactions, you can set the stage for people wanting to learn more about your brand – and put the odds in your favor of gaining and retaining loyal clients.
Whether you’re interacting with prospects by phone, in person, through email, via your blog, or on social media, demonstrate respect for your audience.
Put respect at the center of all you do when interacting with your prospects, clients and colleagues…
- Respect their time.
Be prepared. Think things through. Be organized and have purpose so you communicate what your audience needs to know without going on tangents that waste their precious time.
- Respect their intellect.
Although you might know more about something than they do, check your tone and approach so you’re not perceived as condescending. Also, ask them for their insight, opinions, and feedback whenever appropriate.
- Respect their need to take things slow.
Never ever be pushy about selling your wares! While hard-sell/now-or-never tactics may have worked in the past when all we knew was one-way, push marketing, they’re now annoying and a turn-off to most people. Especially as a professional services business owner, you’ll find it can take months or sometimes years to nurture relationships that turn prospects into clients. Sometimes it’s because they view your offerings as more of a luxury than a need. Sometimes it’s because they have budget constraints. Sometimes they’re just so busy running their businesses they don’t have time to really think about working with you. Be patient. And stay top of mind (social media makes this so very easy!) so when they are ready or need the services you provide, you’ll be the one they call without hesitation.
Communicate with respect…and you’ll gain respect for you as a professional and for your brand.
By Dawn Mentzer
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net