Saturday the National Speaker’s Association New England Chapter invited Colleen Francis, sales guru, to give a presentation on spending less time selling more at greater profit. I slapped myself on the head (like the V-8 commercial - “I could have had a V8!!) when she said one of the most powerful tools you have in sales and marketing is to make communication with clients and prospects ROUTINE.
If I’m really honest I’d say that I’m pretty good about communicating but is isn’t that PREDICTABLE. For example, I blog three times a week but not always; I twitter most days but its difficult when I’m traveling; we have sent out a newsletter for 8 years but not on the same day. What Colleen is talking about is creating a communication plan that is so consistent that when people don’t get your latest memo they call to see if you’ve broken your leg in a skiing accident or left on vacation to Bora Bora. They are actually disappointed when they don’t hear from you on a Monday or a Wednesday.
This principle of consistent communication consistently applies to sales but leadership.
Some years ago interviewing Charlie Baker, CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, for my first book, Speak Like a CEO. Charlie described how he turned arond the faltering health insurance company by communicating consistently. Every Friday he sat down and wrote an email to the entire team explaining where they were and where they were going next; the good, bad and ugly. They knew what he knew. While it must have seemed they were working against all odds, these emails provided hope because they were part of the inner circle. Every Friday, when that email landed in their boxes, they read them and often forwarded them to other interested parties. Charlie didn’t mind because it helped solidify support for HPHC. They turned it around.
Charlie always said consistent communication was one of the biggest factors in their success. By the way, he is now a formidable candidate for governor in Massachusetts. No surprise there.
So how does this principle apply to you? Are you communicating consistently?
Here are some signs that you could improve in this area. (Full disclosure: I have made all these mistakes)
You tend to communicate when there is bad news
You only meet with clients/customers/employees on an “as needed” basis
You find it easy to do until your schedule breaks down and then you sacrifice it to the crisis
People important to your company or business sometimes say, “what a surprise to hear from you.”
You haven’t had a town hall meeting, staff meeting, client meeting in more than a year
When you get on the phone people say “we should really talk more often”
The secret to making this commitment to consistency is to put it on the calendar. If you’ve read Motivate like a CEO, you know my advice: set the intention, schedule the intention and then honor the intention. Where I think I could improve is frequency. How about you?
I welcome your thoughts, please “leave a reply” if you’d like to share tips on how you have increased the frequency and consistency of your communication.
PS: More about Colleen: she has studied the habits of the top 10% of sales performers from organizations of all sizes and shapes - from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses. She condensed this winning formula into an internationally acclaimed sales training system, helping sales professionals everywhere to make an immediate and lasting impact to their results. She believes that there really isn’t a single magic formula to success. Rather, her researched, field–tested approach is about consistently applying a common sense process for listening to, working with, and tending to the needs of customers. Check her out at http://www.engageselling.com/colleenfrancis_index.shtml