Imagine this: you’ve worked for hours putting together the proposal that your prospective client requested and are ready to send it. You choose what you believe to be the most efficient way to communicate—you e-mail the document. You expect that your prospect is checking e-mail regularly and will be contacting you within a few hours to seal the deal. You have a mental picture of yourself signing the contract and depositing a nice check into your account.
What you don’t know is that your prospect doesn’t check e-mail frequently. You failed to find out what form of communication he prefers and how he wanted to receive your response. Sadly for you, your competitor is on the ball and knows. By the time your e-mail proposal is opened and read, the deal is done, but not with you.
Maybe you called the prospect, who was out of the office at the time, so you left the information on voice mail and waited all day for a response. As it turns out, this person only checks voice mail at the end of the day and returns his calls in the morning. Again, your competition knew this and sent an email instead.
We are absolutely overwhelmed with ways to transmit information. Current studies indicate that e-mail is the business communication tool of choice. However, many people still prefer the telephone, the office staple since Alexander Graham Bell first spoke to Mr. Watson from the other room. Now that phones are mobile, no one is ever far from their phone.
Phones are so “smart” today that they can do everything that you used to have a landline, a computer and a fax machine for. Their latest trick is texting. Skip email. Forget calling and just send a cryptic text message. There is an entire segment of the population that does not know any other way to communicate than to text. After all, it is convenient. You can text anytime, anywhere to almost anybody. The business person who doesn’t text is considered to be something akin to the dinosaur.
We all have our preferred means of communication. When communicating with your clients, learn their preferences. It’s not just a courtesy, it’s good business. It’s not about you; it’s about your client. How can you tell what your client prefers? Ask. It’s as simple as that.
Here’s to successfully communicating with your clients!
If you have any questions about the etiquette of communication in business, please contact me. I am available to you however you wish to communicate.
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