Customer communication is actually something you can control when so many other things seem out of control. The past year has been a unique one, and we still aren’t where we were pre-2020. Salespeople are still going to have to adapt to changing and unfamiliar circumstances. “What many of you have done for years, in-person meetings, travel, and industry events, can’t happen, and it may feel like nothing is in your control right now,” writes Senior Director, Global Marketing Keith Richey for LinkedIn. “But,” he adds, “there is a way forward.”
He explains that customer communication is easily within your control as a salesperson. It’s up to you to keep it going, keep it interesting, and keep it valuable, especially during times like this. We can control how we treat and respond to others, and how we interact with customers now can have a lasting impact.
Customer communication guidelines
Richey writes about guidelines that salespeople can keep in mind when navigating outreaches with customers. Before you send an email or pick up the phone, it can be helpful to keep these guidelines top-of-mind to make the most of each communique.
Employ empathy. Empathy has been a hot topic lately as the importance of connection, understanding and respect grow in the eyes of consumers and businesses. Buyers are seeking vendors who speak to them on a personal, humanized level and don’t engage in hard selling. By making sure each customer communication has an element of empathy, you are showing you care about that person.
“Listening and showing that you honestly care about a customer’s business also builds rapport and leads to long-term trust in the relationship,” Richey explains. “Not every interaction with a buyer is about trying to sell or even solving problems. Sometimes, you just need to be an active listener. Be authentic and avoid the temptation to be opportunistic.”
Use outreaches to learn
Also, make an effort to inform yourself in some way. Use your outreaches to learn more about your customer and their business. Things have changed a lot in a year, and ripple effects of those changes are still happening. And, likely, more adjustments are down the road. Use customer communication to keep up, and stay ahead, of developments in customers’ lives. Richey suggests adding these questions to your communications to stay informed:
- How are you and your business doing under the circumstances?
- What’s top of mind for you and your team right now?
- What problems or challenges have become critical for you to solve?
- Is your company altering its plans for the next quarter or year ahead?
As Richey points out, “A key part of any sales conversation is to gain knowledge and understand your buyer’s objectives and pain points. This hasn’t changed, even in the current environment.”
Make it about more than business
Don’t make every single customer communication transactional. Varying the topics and focus of your discussions will once again show the customer that you care about them (not just their money). Once you gather insights, Richey suggests elevating the communication above the transactional. “Once you’ve had a human conversation and asked the right questions, it’s time to be nimble, adjust your strategy, and decide what action to take, if any,” he writes. Consider how you can use these communications to provide value to the customer either now or down the road. Also, consider how you can take the information they provide during these discussions to adjust your own strategy and plans.
Keeping your connections strong, especially during times when things seem out of control, is vital to you and your customers. You can use each customer communication to connect personally and grow professionally. As Richey points out, despite the tough times, “even now there are ways to have valuable, human interactions with your buyers, even if there’s not a transaction to be had in the near future.”