Do you recognize when NOT to communicate using email and social media?

Posted on 04/01/2014 in Communication Skills

The way people buy has changed so much over the past decade, that it stands to reason that the way people sell should be changing as well, right?  Buyers are more educated, informed, and sophisticated, so the methods of communication used by sales professionals have to reflect this. 

One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for salespeople to excel at communication skills.  Yet, the way in which we communicate has become increasingly complex and oftentimes, less personal.  Today’s sellers have to be consultative, and their means of communication need to be consultative as well. So, how do you communicate most effectively?

With the increasingly wide variety of modes of communication — ranging from face-to-face sales calls, telephone calls, email, and social media —many sellers rely too much on one communication method and under-utilize other methods.

You will increase your role as an effective advisor to your customer if you select the right mode of communication.  To make this determination, be sure to ask yourself questions such as:   

What is this customer’s preferred mode of communication?  

How important is it to demonstrate to the customer that you are proficient at newer modes of communication, such as social media and text messaging, and don’t rely only on older modes of communication?

How urgent is it that the customer replies to you?  For example, if the customer receives many emails each day, your urgent message may be overlooked, in which case a phone call or voice mail message would be more appropriate.

In general, the newer generation of sales professionals tends to under-utilize the use of telephone and face-to-face communication with customers.  Email and social media are not appropriate for every sales situation.  A phone call or face to face meeting would be a better mode of communication if some or all of these conditions apply:

1.The lack of emotional and personal context makes written communication best-suited for the sharing of factual information. It is more difficult, if not impossible, to use an email or other written communication to ask questions to gather information from the customer, or demonstrate that you’ve listened to and understood the customer’s point of view. 

2.If you sense that you and/or the other person have misunderstood your written message, pick up the phone

3.There are times when a face-to-face sales call is best (or perhaps a phone call) but not a written message:
When you are negotiating 
When you need a lot of input from the other person(s)
When the situation is emotional (or likely to become emotional)
When you wish to ensure the confidentiality or security of the message; no email is private and all email can be forwarded to unintended recipients

Knowing when to go back to old fashioned person to person communication may seem like common sense, but in our busy lives, we often take the shortcut.  Shooting off the quick email saves time, but it may not always be the best method.  Don’t take the shortcut next time.  Take the time to choose the right form of communication, given the situation and the customer.