Continuing with our theme of, “Making Things Happen,” most people agree effective communication is a critical component of success, whether selling, managing, marketing or just trying to complete tasks.
While there are obviously many facets of communication, there is one simple habit that, if well developed and consistently executed, will improve your business communication and success level significantly – and help you to “make things happen” in the process.
When asked to identify this habit, most people think it involves the conveyance of one’s message – either a smooth or powerful delivery, or a pleasant voice tone. Others suggest that the best communicators are good listeners and, as noted in our previous post, the art of asking good questions is critical.
But while these are all very important elements of good communication, none of them represent the habit to which we refer today. The critical skill we have in mind today is the one that truly helps you make things happen. It is the habit that brings about action! And, as promised, it is simple…
Simple But Not Easy
It is the practice of specifically identifying and scheduling the next steps that are consequential to your communication – consequential to your discussions, your meetings, your teleconferences, your interviews, your sales calls, and so on.
If this seems too simplistic, please think again. Consider the fact that all business communication, regardless of its form, must be purposeful. We conduct meetings to share information on which people must act. We make sales calls so that people will buy. We run training sessions to help people perform better. We go on interviews with hopes of being hired; we conduct interviews with hopes of hiring. Each form of business communication has a purpose, and that purpose involves action.
So, for example, at the end of each sales call, what can we do to make something happen? What can we say at the end of each staff meeting to make sure everyone is on-board with the conclusions drawn and that each participant is clear on his or her role in implementing agreed-upon solutions or processes? After meeting a new prospect at a networking event, is there a way to end our conversation that will result in a meaningful future discussion about a business relationship?
The answers to all of these questions may vary in content, but in principle they’re all the same – we must identify and then arrange the next steps, and we must do so definitively.
For instance, after meeting a good prospect at a trade show, it is far better to arrange a specific follow-up plan such as, “I’ll call you Monday at 3pm,” rather than a vague plan such as, “I’ll call you next week!”
“It has been nice meeting with you today, Ms. Buyer. Based on the information you’ve shared, I’ll put together a formal proposal for outfitting your facility with widgets. Can we schedule a brief meeting to review the proposal’s details? How about next Wednesday or Thursday…?”
“OK sales team, our goals for the upcoming week are clear. Along with our regular sales calls, each of us will make twenty-five additional courtesy calls to current customers because we’ve all agreed that retention levels must be improved. These calls will be documented in the newly-created section of our CRM program, and we’ll get together on Wednesday at 4pm to discuss progress – any questions?”