The Significant of Conversation in your Business

Hello there!

It was such a beautiful morning! Every morning I tried to find something good to read before I start the day. Is this also one of your habits? Of course, my day wouldn’t be completed without sharing what I think is interesting. For today, it has something to do with conversation with client which you can also use in sales promotion. This article is written by Michael W. McLaughlin(@MWMcLaughlin) of MindShare Consulting. He states the significant of conversation in your business. It can help your business to grow or it can bring your business down. I will let you read the full article so I pasted it here.

Three Conversations That Can Make or Break Your Business

By Michael W. McLaughlinOne of the things I appreciate about the consulting business is that it’s full of surprises–like when a client sends the global consulting firm packing in favor of the upstart boutique firm. Or the client who chooses the premium-priced consultant, instead of a less expensive, competent competitor.

What’s intriguing is that the consultants whose businesses do well whether times are good or bad aren’t always the ones with the best price, top industry position, or the longest track record of success. Yet, they still thrive.

So what sets these consultants apart from the rest? What you will find is that winning consultants prevail because they have higher quality conversations with their clients than their competitors do.

Not the Usual Mindless Chit-Chat

Most of the successful consultants I know are good communicators. After all, at its core, the consulting business is about conversations–with clients, colleagues, competitors, partners, and others.

Part of that is schmoozing, which is not unimportant in this business. But if you really want to up your game as a consultant, find ways to elevate the quality of the three substantive conversations you have with clients on a regular basis: diagnostic, sales, and consultative conversations.

Those are the interactions that build your credibility with clients and matter most to your business.

Diagnostic Conversations: Seeking Mutual Gain

Any consultant can listen to a client’s description of the situation and offer up a potential service solution. It’s not hard, given that most clients pre-qualify consultants before they talk to them. So clients know ahead of time who can help them with the pre-defined issue. The result: the consultant talks to the client, hears a familiar problem, and offers a predictable solution.

This approach to a sales opportunity may fit the bill in some cases. But in most competitive situations, you’ll find at least one consultant who doesn’t suggest the obvious solution to the client’s self-diagnosed problem. That consultant will ask more diagnostic questions, delve into the matter more deeply, and resist the urge to “solve” the problem immediately.

The inquisitive competitor withholds judgment, gets the facts, and identifies the client’s need–as opposed to just agreeing with what the client wants.

Before you try to sell anything, invest time and energy in diagnostic conversations to build trust, establish your credibility, and make sure that the client’s project would be mutually beneficial to you and the client.

Sales Conversations: Answering the Big Questions

Effective diagnostic conversations set the stage for productive sales conversations in three ways. First, they help you write a more compelling sales proposal that has greater clarity. You won’t have to rely on the typical boilerplate; you’ll have enough detailed information to write a highly-focused, thoughtful project plan.

Second, your sales discussions will include fewer assumptions and more certainty about how you would conduct the project. Assumption-free proposals and sales presentations inspire confidence and demonstrate your competence.

Finally, your client will experience what it’s like to work with you, providing an opportunity to answer the big questions about the personal chemistry between you and the client’s team, the rigor of your work style, and the depth of your expertise. Once the client can draw conclusions on those questions, the project should sell itself.

Your sales conversations, though, must follow this rule: clients want to hear about themselves, not you. So you have to answer the big questions about you by focusing on the client’s issue, the way you’ll approach that issue, and the value your client can expect. Sales presentations that are mostly a recitation of your qualifications won’t get or keep a client’s attention, and that puts your sale at risk.

Consultative Conversations: Staying Top of Mind

I once worked with a PR consultant who wanted to keep in touch after we finished our small project. Every now and then, I’d get an invitation to lunch or a request for a meeting to talk about an issue or two that he thought would interest me.

These conversations always went the same way: He’d show me some interesting research or suggest an intriguing idea. We’d talk about its relevance, and then he’d pitch a project to me. Every idea he brought to my attention had a price tag attached, even though we never discussed any potential projects before our “keep in touch” meetings. That consultant never worked for me again.

For many clients, what you do when you’re not working on a project with them (and there isn’t one looming) defines the on-going relationship. But it can be a challenge to keep past relationships current when you are not actively engaged on a specific assignment for a client.

Most consultants know exactly what they should do to maintain contact with past clients, but something holds them back. Why not pick up the phone and call your client? Why don’t you send that email? The most common concern I hear is that the client will think it’s a self-serving sales call, not an honest attempt to help a valued client.

The best way to avoid that dilemma is to talk to your clients about staying in touch before you finish projects. Usually, they want to hear from you, especially if you’ve done a good job for them. Just be sure that what you have to offer is useful–a new way to think about an old problem, or a trend that could change how the client does business, for example.

The point of keeping in touch isn’t to go for the client’s wallet each time you meet, as my former PR consultant did. Bring ideas without the expectation of gain. You want to stay top of mind, build your relationship, and demonstrate your commitment. Your client will remember that when it comes time to hire a consultant again.

Talk Is Cheap?

The saying “Talk is Cheap” may ring true for some businesses, but not consulting. To thrive, you need to master the basics, of course, including services marketing, sales, project delivery, and client relationship management. But your skills in these areas can’t be used to their best advantage unless you also master the three make or break conversations with clients.

To be a good communicator you must be prepared all the time. You should know what to say when client is asking you of something. When you are confident of your service, it would be very easy for you talk about it but you must not overdo it, you should talk in a casual manner or as natural as possible. It shouldn’t sound like pitching. Are you a good communicator?

 

All the best,

Jack

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