Once a human being arrives on this earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him.
—Virginia Satir, pioneer in the field of family therapy
Hundreds of books have been written on effective communication. These books talk about power phrases, body language, communicating through how you dress, presentation techniques, gender-specific tactics, and a host of other methods to improve communications. I am sure any of these books will help you in crafting a sales presentation or a speech; however, the book you are holding in your hands is not a book about sales techniques or speech-making skills. This book tells the story of how to get your customers to come back to do business with you again and again. We will discuss a few specific techniques, but the real importance of this information is to share the principle of effective communication as a means of creating loyalty.
We communicate by what we say, how we say it, and how we look. Social scientists tell us that we judge people 7 percent by what they say, 38 percent on how they say it, and a whopping 55 percent on their appearance. These numbers indicate that the most important part of influencing people is appearance. The numbers are true however keep in mind this is how we judge people when we don't have any other information to base our judgment on.
When you visit a doctor's office for the first time, you already have a preformed judgment of the physician. Even if you weren't referred, you enter the doctor's office with the belief he is educated, knowledgeable, qualified, and able to help you. If the doctor shows up in a crumpled shirt and with little to say, you still hold him in high esteem because of your prejudgment. I am not trying to diminish the value of looking good, speaking well, and having something interesting to say. I want you to understand that relationships are built on deeper information.
Have you ever watched Peter Falk's portrayal of the television detective Columbo? If you have watched the show, then you know that a person can smell like a cigar, dress sloppily, and be vague in their speech, yet still be engaging, endearing, and quite likable. First impressions are important but they are still only first impressions. Our purpose in pursuing a discussion of effective communication is to create a lasting relationship. Our discussion is about your second, third, and fourth impressions.
Effective communication is not a parlor trick or something that only a well-trained orator can accomplish. Flawless elocution is an admirable trait but it isn't necessary to communicate effectively. Communication is effective when it is two-way communication. Effective communication is a combination of reactionary interpersonal skills. Speaking, listening, and learning are the basis for effective communication.
The message you give to your customers and how you deliver that message is central in the process of creating customer loyalty. We will be discussing some specific techniques as examples of how best to communicate with your customers. More important than these specific techniques is that you have a strategy for how you will effectively communicate with your customers.
Customers want straight talk. They want truthful, honest information. An eloquent spin on your product or service may capture their attention, but ultimately, customers want down-to-earth, straight talk. Sales people have been carefully taught to "Sell the sizzle, not the steak." If you only have one steak to sell, that may be fine, but this discussion is about selling many steaks over a long and lasting relationship. Loyal customers are more interested in a meaningful value proposition with real assurances, not a one-time deal.
Both internal and external customers are directed by how you communicate. Sincere, effective communication builds consensus and leads the customer. Consensus builds relationships and loyalty is a relationship. It is the relationship you have with your customers that makes them come back again and again to do business with you.
Have you ever heard the expression "Familiarity breeds contempt"? Do you believe familiarity breeds contempt? Professional familiarity does not breed contempt, it builds relationships. When you demonstrate to your customers that you know and understand them they will respond with loyalty. Customers have contempt when you fail to demonstrate that you recognize their wants, needs, and desires.
In this chapter, we are going to discuss three stages of communication that build relationships:
Before we talk.
When we talk.
After we talk.