In this article, I'll discuss a number of areas where - I believe - there is potential to improve communication. Whether it's via emails, talking directly with people (groups or individually), or on the phone, good communication pays off. We arrive at mutually agreed conclusions more quickly, and more effectively. In sales, marketing and business in general, this is gold.

The first section is about email communication. The second addresses communication pitfalls, and the last section focusses on specific questions and discussion points designed to drive sales conversations in the right direction: towards the win. Let's go!   


Email Communications

Today, most people skim emails, so...Let's try to focus on their problems. Try to keep it short...(<50 words).

Avoid filler words and other types of fluff. I understand that people want to be polite and respectful of others’ time, but fluff does not help.

Check the list below and remove any that you use. Not using any of them? Well done, I'll buy you a coffee!  

Email Intro

  • Per our conversation...
  • I trust this email finds you well...
  • I'm not sure if it's on your radar, but...
  • I'm reaching out in regard to...
  • I'm reaching out at the suggestion of...
  • I thought I should reach out and...

Email body

  • For all intents and purposes...
  • It goes without saying, but...
  • It's probably worth mentioning that...
  • Please be advised that...
  • In my humble opinion...
  • I'm just sending this to flag... 
  • I wanted to loop you in on...
  • I'm just sending you a friendly reminder that...
  • I'm just touching base on..., or Let's touch base on...
  • In the spirit of transparency...

The Close...The Ask 

  • Don't hesitate to reach out...
  • In the interest of saving time...

Naturally, different languages and cultures have different norms and expectations. Some may surprise us, others can be more familiar.

At the end of the day, however, an email is a business communication, and people don’t have unlimited time (especially for reading fluff).

Stop wasting your time. Stop wasting your prospects’ and clients’ time. They’ll appreciate it.  

I almost forgot...these are equally valid for internal emails. 


Communication Pitfalls

Following on from the "fluff", I got to thinking that perhaps some of us could benefit from avoiding some of the following - surprisingly common - communication pitfalls.

Filler words

Filler words are words such as "um", "like", "maybe", "I think" and "well". If English isn't your first language, you'll likely have a few of these in your own language, too...

Filler words can make us sound uncertain or even amateurish. That's not you. Take care when using them.

Enthusiastic words

How many things in a person's day are genuinely "awesome" or "literally" something or other? Our wonderful languages are rich, let's find some meaningful alternatives, and try to turn down the hyperbole.

It'll literally boost your credibility (see what I did there? 😎).

Jargon, or tech-speak

Not everyone knows all the terms that are used in work and business. Using them correctly is long as the other party also knows what we're talking about. If your not sure, then perhaps it's better unsaid. 
Simply put, using terms that we are uncertain of, or we use in the wrong setting, is rarely going to help our credibility...

Profanity (rude language)

This is full of risks, both obvious and hidden. Of course, there are some situations where swearing is accepted - or even the norm ( I know from personal experience that some industries often use colourful language). 

If your prospect's language is a bit more rich and direct than average, and you sense that you can get away with it, go ahead. If not, keep it clean.

In most cases, it's better left unsaid. 


Drive sales conversations in the right direction

Ever get the feeling that your sales conversations (or business discussions, in general) are stuck, and not moving in the right direction, quickly enough? You're not alone.

Read on to discover 6 powerful questions and discussion points that drive those conversations towards mutually beneficial outcomes, otherwise known as Win-Wins. So, how do we do that?  

Admittedly, not all phrases or questions can be used by all sales organisations. However, most of us should be able to apply at least two or three of them.  

Let's quickly scan them, then we’ll look more closely at each one, to better understand how they work...   

  1. Tell me about your business pain
  2. What is your biggest inhibitor to growth?
  3. What kind of ROI are you looking for?
  4. Do we need an executive sponsor? 
  5. What do you know about [the name of your solution / product / service]?
  6. Let's talk about the implementation process


Now, let's look at each of those in a little more detail.  

Tell me about your business pain

We’re getting right down to the important aspect (from the buyer’s perspective): where is it hurting them most?

By opening the conversation up around this point, which is the most interesting & relevant for the buyer, we have the following benefits:  

  • We become immediately relevant, 
  • We eliminate guesswork on how our offering could positively impact the buyer’s business, and,  
  • We focus the sale immediately on the buyer's needs, and not on the seller's (let’s face it, the buyer doesn’t care about what we want to do...) 

If our solution/product/service cannot address this vital point, then it's smart to know this. Not only that, but we will also be more effective for knowing it early in the sales process.

Why? Simply put, the buyer will likely consider us as a high-priority vendor.

On the other hand, this conversation may result in no sale at all. Either way, by asking this one simple question, we were able to find this out in under 5 mins.  


What is your biggest inhibitor to growth?

This is a great question, and it can provide us with so many answers! Whatever the answer, we can be sure that this issue is absolutely top of mind for the buyer.  

Pay close attention, ask meaningful and insightful follow-on questions, and together you and the buyer can build a solid business case and a successful, sustainable relationship.  

Remember, when the customer designs the solution, they usually invest in it, and will do so quickly.  


What kind of ROI are you looking for?  

This is often an important discussion point for larger, enterprise-level sales.

Simply put, if we can't provide their expected (realistic) ROI, our chances of closing the deal are slim. However, when we know the ROI, and how we can push the needle towards and beyond that target, then the sales process often accelerates, and our win-rates usually increase.  

This is because we are demonstrably able to improve the prospect’s business outcomes in a quantifiable and meaningful way.  

This information can also be supplemented with a discussion about the TCO (total cost of ownership) of your product, service or solution.

Discussing these metrics can be particularly effective when we are up against a more established – and perhaps more expensive – competitor.  

Either way, your job is to help the prospect see clearly why you are the best choice for them.  

Make sure you know how to calculate this beforehand! If you don’t know how to, then either learn from someone who does understand it. Otherwise, don’t use this! 


Do we need an executive sponsor? 

Some organisations require – or prefer – this. Having one (or several sponsors) is a huge advantage for the seller. 

If you do not have an executive sponsor, and you find yourself against a competitor, there is a risk that the competitor has the sponsor instead, further increasing the level of difficulty for you in arriving at a win outcome.

Consider the following:  

  • In addition to yourself, who else will be involved in this decision? 
  • Ask meaningful questions to learn more about their internal buying processes.  
  • Any other stakeholders should be met with, to better understand, and align with, their priorities & agendas.  
  • Who could veto this deal?  
  • Will the investment decision be taken at Board-level?  
  • If so, when will the Board meet next,  
  • to name only a few ideas... 

Ask to meet with these executives and stakeholders and help them quickly understand how & why your offering is good for them & good for their business.


What do you know about (our product /service/solution)? 

Use this one early in your first meeting with a prospect to quickly calibrate & adjust your conversation with them, based on: 

  • Their level of understanding of whatever you offer
  • Their position in the decision-making journey 
  • Whether they are a supporter, or a blocker for your proposed offering  

This knowledge should allow you to identify and address objections & red flags early in the sales process. This, in turn, will allow you to qualify your deals more strongly, leading (often) to a quicker, more profitable win.

In some cases, however, this information will help us see that there is not any realistic business potential.  

We will have been able to arrive at this conclusion both quickly and professionally, without having used up valuable time. 


Let's talk about the implementation process 

Obviously, if you don't have an implementation process, you won't use this one.

However, when your solution will be implemented, it is crucially important to discuss and agree on the process during the sales process – and not afterwards.

If not, you may find that your new client has not planned for their resources to participate in the successful implementation. Neither can they be dragged away from their current projects. All of this will be at the cost of yours. Therefore, management buy-in is key here. 

Failure to do this can result in your software (say) ending up not being used as efficiently & or effectively as possible.

Poorly planned implementation often leads to lower adoption rates, which often leads to increased churn & lost revenue.  

Perhaps you'll consider adding some of those questions or phrases in your day-to-day communications. Believe me, your buyers will appreciate and respond positively to them, when used well.  


7 red flags that indicate your sales pipeline is weaker than you think (& want)

Why you should never "just check in" with a prospect

Help! I'm being blocked. What now?