Communication is so more than just talking. It is the ability to explain yourself clearly, and to hear what others are saying. Most of all it is understanding each other.
Have you ever had one of those conversations where you walk away with no idea what was just discussed? When two people talk but they don’t understand each other—they did not communicate.
As women, we are good at talking, and listening, and understanding (both what is said and what is not said)—and that is communication. Good communication makes all the difference when you are running a business.
In sales, the most obvious application of clear communication is, of course, your pitch. I always tell my coaching clients to script their entire pitch in advance and, if possible, memorize it—and practice it! I have blown too many pitches by being over-confident, skipping the practice session, and then finding myself bumbling through my pitch because I didn’t remember it as well as I thought.
In sales, it’s important not just to communicate clearly, but to look confident as you do so—which means you put in all the advance time required to know your offer, your audience, and your pitch like you’ve been doing it since you were born.
But pitching happens in informal settings too. You can start a conversation in the queue at the shop and discover you are speaking with a potential client. This is when you need an excellent “elevator pitch” to attract people’s interest and get them to agree to a followup conversation. You need to memorize an intriguing elevator pitch as well, so that you can deliver it in conversation in a comfortable way.
Giving a formal or informal pitch can be an excruciating experience for most entrepreneurs, particularly women. We are so unaccustomed to promoting ourselves and asking people to pay good money for what we offer. What is one way to overcome this?
Practice, practice and more practice. Practice your content and become comfortable delivering it in a clear and authentic way. Remember, you are naturally good at communication! So the next time you have to pitch yourself, do not focus on the discomfort. Instead, focus on the achievable goal of clear communication. You will find your pitches become much more relaxed.
Be sure you also give your audience a chance to communicate with you. What do they need that no one else is offering them? How much have they in budget? What is their vision for this area? Don’t be afraid to ask these questions directly (just be conversational—don’t make them feel interrogated).
When you are really tuned in to your client’s needs and you show it, they will relax and open up to you. You will greatly increase your chance of making a sale.
Good communication also means making sure there are no gray areas in your deal. Never imply you are offering something that you are not—and if you realize your client thinks so, correct them immediately. It can be tempting to avoid explaining some detail until after the deal is done. However, the damage this causes to your relationship with the client is not worth it.
Your communication skills are a gift—put them to work for you!
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