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Basics of communicating with leads and clients

From the Pipeline ROI Blog...

Your smartphone may be sabotaging your communication techniques.

We’re in the middle of quite an amazing technological era.  The communication sector alone has seen phenomenal advancements over the last 10 years.  Between text messages, smart phones, e-mail, social media, and Internet access in almost any nook or cranny of the world, people are becoming more and more closely connected.  If you ask me, sometimes it feels like we’re almost too connected.  My grandma doesn’t call me anymore to see what I’ve been doing, she calls to chastise me for things I’ve already done (she saw on Facebook).  There’s nowhere to hide!

Usually, when something is incredibly easy to do (communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime), it’s also easy to take for granted, and develop bad habits.  I’d argue that we have technology to thank for the errors we’re about to look at.  Sure, we’re a little to blame, but when one device (I’m looking at you, smartphone), rapidly changes how we do something so basic and necessary, it’s hard to adjust our behaviors and expectations.  This lack of social adjustment to technology isn’t anything new – it actually has a name: Cultural Lag.  And I didn’t make that up, it’s on Wikipedia, so you KNOW it’s true.

The bad news is, these bad habits from Cultural Lag can wreck your brand image, erode client relationships, and even hurt your sales abilities.  Fortunately, these habits are as easy to remedy as they are to develop.  All you have to do is recognize them.  But how?

I’ve given this some thought, and you should be able to fix these bad habits in 10 minutes and see instant results.  If you want to make sure your buyers and sellers are “wowed” (see: Zappo’s core value #1), get more referral-generating testimonials, and beat the average agent, read on!

Bad Habit #1 – Expecting an instant answer

When you send someone a text message or e-mail, how long do you think it takes for them to receive it?  I would hope you answered somewhere in the neighborhood of “instantly.”  We all know this, but we also tend to take it for granted.  Just because the message was instant, doesn’t mean an answer will be.  Think about this from your clients’ perspectives.  They’re most likely expecting instant answers from you.  Is that reasonable?  Honestly, no, but knowing this means you can meet this expectation your clients have and stand high above your slow-responding competition.  You’ll also avoid coming across as “hard to get a hold of”, “not very attentive”, or “too busy to help.” Which leads me to #2…

Bad Habit #2 – Delaying response

The most important habit I’ve picked up from my sales experience (and life in general) in regards to dealing with other people is that you don’t always have to give an immediate solution, but you should give an immediateresponse.  There is almost nothing that has a bigger impact on how your clients perceive you than your response time to them.  When they e-mail, text, or call you, respond immediately.  You don’t have to have the answer or information they need right away, but they will appreciate a response.  It could be a simple “I’ll get you the answer by 3PM today” or “I’m not sure about this but I’ll investigate this morning and let you know what I find by this evening.”

Going back to habit #1, your clients (and you most likely) are expecting an instant answer, but what you really need is an instant response most of the time.  There are very time-sensitive situations where an instant answer is required but for the most part, people just want to get confirmation you heard them, are working on “it”, and when you’ll respond.

Bad Habit #3 – Choosing the wrong delivery method

Digiorno pizzas might not like this, but delivery is crucial.  I’m going to simplify this and say there are two broad categories of communication:

  1. Text (e-mail, text message, social media) 
  2. Voice (phone call, Skype, Face-to-Face)

There’s a time to communicate via text and a time when you definitely should not.

Sure, you can communicate with your clients via e-mail for everything and survive, but you’re missing the opportunity to really connect with the client and WOW them (You + WOW > Average Agent).  Confirming a meeting for a showing?  Text.  Telling your client their offer got accepted?  Voice.  The personal, human connection you can make through the emotion conveyed in your voice, and the fact that you cared enough to call, makes telling your client their offer is accepted so much more impactful.  That’s part of how you WOW clients.  That’s one step closer to the testimonial that gets you repeat business and referrals.

Consider how often you fall prey to these bad habits.  If it’s quite a bit, you may unintentionally be coming off as unfocused and uncaring to your clients.  Don’t send the wrong message, especially when you can avoid it by a simple change in behavior.  Recognizing and correcting these potential client communication pitfalls can make a bigger difference than you think, and help you make a connection with clients where your competitors fall short. 

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