5 Steps to Effortless Customer Conversations
It all starts with a simple phone call follow up with a customer. A meeting is scheduled, and before anyone knows what happened, there is a proof of concept, complicated budgetary quotes, and subject matter experts all demanding the customer’s attention. Meanwhile, your customer is struggling to evaluate your proposal and balance the demands on her time. Your messaging and delivery are adding crippling complexity to the decision.
To reduce the complexity, we’ve focused on streamlining delivery and communication with the customer to a state of elegant simplicity. It’s important to quiet the inevitable noise surrounding a deal and leave the core value and message clearly distinguished. We’ve compiled a list of time-tested techniques–try these five tips to create an effortless experience for your customer and keep your deal on track.
1. Be flexible with your delivery
Flexibility is a byproduct of being prepared for a conversation. Before talking with the customer, spend some time evaluating the potential impact areas. It’s best to have five to ten benefit areas identified so that if one doesn’t resonate with the customer, you can move on to other areas that do. If you bring too many benefit areas, you risk losing the customer’s interest. This is where 15 minutes of research can save hours in the long run, by identifying the customer’s interests and focusing your work to key areas.
2. Let the customer drive the conversation
This conversation is all about the customer. Your goal should be to get them thinking and then talking about your idea. Since you brainstormed talking points earlier, the customer can help you evaluate which ones are most relevant to their situation. This simple task is effortless for the customer and focuses your future conversations.
3. Come with best practice insights
Sometimes a customer isn’t ready or prefers not to drive the conversation. In this scenario, be ready to make the most of the time you’ve been given. Discuss where other customers have seen value in previous situations by focusing on key insights and where they have experienced meaningful impact. By showing a solid understanding of the customer’s business, you open a dialogue that allows you to provide your customer with ammunition for her internal conversations after the meeting.
4. Review the action items
Action items are all too familiar at the end of meetings. However, they can be an invaluable tool when used correctly. A well-placed action item, drawn from feedback provided by the customer, lets you take some work off her plate. You probably didn’t know what you would be doing when you started the conversation so keep an eye out for ways you might provide value or convenience during the conversation.
Providing a much-needed function to the customer will leave them with a concrete memory of the positive experience and put you in the driver’s seat for the next meeting. Be sure everyone knows who is bringing which deliverables and by when to prevent anyone from being caught off guard at the next meeting. If you are the one providing the service, you have a way to open the door for the next meeting.
5. Schedule the next meeting
Once all the conversations are finished and the action items have been reviewed, suggest a time to reconvene. Everyone seems to have a shortage of meeting space in their calendar and scheduling a follow up right away helps with planning. Even when I can’t lock down on a final time, I’ll send a placeholder that serves as a reminder to everyone involved. Be sure to put placeholders on everyone’s calendar so that all participants get notified of date and time changes.
Elegant simplicity is the balance between flexibility and structure. It requires preparedness and discipline, but when properly executed it can make a sales pitch feel like a conversation with an old friend. It builds trust and collaboration and highlights the solutions you can provide. The time you will save with your customers in the long run, far exceeds the effort you will put in to prepare. We can all use these strategies to pull our messages out of the noise and clutter to be effortlessly understood.