As marketers, communicating effectively is vital to so many of the things we do and detrimental for success in the business world besides effectively and efficiently managing teams.
Professional business communication may be internal and external. Managers and team members can channel it through a wide variety of mediums including print, oral, and electronics.
“Good communication is effective communication” and as a leader you should follow the Principles and ethics of communication.
The principles of communication are the principle of clarity, principle of attention, principle of feedback, principle of informality, principle of consistency, principle of timeliness and principle of adequacy.
The ethics of communication should envisage the following:
You should communicate fact-based messages truthfully, honestly, accurately and completely, to the point, in brief, specific, segmented and with reason. These are essential to the integrity of communication.
You should respect the individual or group with whom you communicate and give freedom to express themselves.
You should also respect diverse perspectives and dissenting opinions.
You should also tolerate others.
At no time you should offend, humiliate or provoke others. You should be able to achieve decision making. You need to be concise, considered, concrete and courteous. Finally make the facts and resources on which the communication relies accessible to others.
Ethical communication enhances human worth and dignity
Communication is the cornerstone of our profession. To be effective at it; whether selling a Product or Service, trying to motivate, convince or persuade a group to act favourably to your communication objectives; getting your team aligned – these communication principles should help focus your thoughts into something powerful and useful.
Now let us look at one huge mistake each in oral and print communication, that I have commonly seen in training the sales and marketing Professionals make during the opening of their sales presentation and how to rectify it.
Most of the untrained sales professionals ask a closed ended question right at the beginning of their presentation. In other words if you ask a close-ended question you expect a “yes” or “no” answer.
If the customer says no to your question then that is the end of your sales or business call.
Hence, after creating interest, you have to always start the sales presentation with an “open ended question”.
Your presentation should have the following aspects incorporated into it; Introduction (I), Content (C), and Conclusion (C). This is known as the “I-C-C” approach for presentation.
During the presentation you must have “patient listening skills” to continue the discussion with your customer or customers.
In between your presentation or soon after your presentation your customers will have concerns and questions which you need to resolve and clarify to them. Sometimes your customers may ask you “multiple questions”.
Generally, the sales or marketing professionals try to answer the question in the order of the questions being asked by the customers. But, as per the “Professional Communication Skills”, you must “paraphrase” the questions and ask the customers whether they have understood their questions.
If they say, “yes” you must ask the customers for their preferences on the order of questions to be answered by you. For example, “Well doctor, based on our discussion, you have price as a limiting factor to prescribe our brand, and concerns on availability and long-term safety data. Let me address your concerns and what is the order of your preference of your questions being answered by me. It would be my pleasure to provide the answers for you to try using our brand,” and thank the customer for accepting your request and then resolving their concerns and “handle objections”, accordingly and successfully.
Closing the discussion
Finally, you have to summarise your discussion and close the discussion by asking for orders or prescriptions.
Sometimes you may have a “group presentation” and you will have a specific number of doctors or other customers. Then you will have “multiple doctors and multiple concerns” scenarios. In this instance you do not need to panic. After listening to their concerns and paraphrasing, simply find out from the group members their preference on the doctor’s concerns to be resolved and do it accordingly.
Or else you can inform them that you will resolve the concerns based on the customers seniority and get their consent and resolve the concerns accordingly. Ethicality and accuracy of your information are pre-requisites forpractice of “Successful Professional Communication” in the business world.
Professional Communication could be used during company board meetings or sales meetings and conferences the same above is applicable, whereas instead of orders or prescriptions, the leader could ask for employees’ commitment on the decision made by the companies.
The huge error that even the top directors, company heads and senior managers locally and internationally make in their print communication or print based media is they wind up the e-mails, typing as “Thanks and Regards”. This is totally incorrect as these are two different things. “Thanks is the expression of gratitude”, and “regards is the expression of friendliness”.
Hence, the perfect way to conclude your mail is to type it as “Thanks or Thank you” and consider to type “Regards” in the next line underneath “Thanks”.
Words of advice to young sales and marketing professionals: There is no ideal level of communication and you will always find room for improvement in such skills. Just make sure that you never stop taking these skills to the next level of improvement.
Finally, resolve to always be learning. While some things remain the same, the how and what we communicate is constantly evolving. Hence, read lots, talk to your mentors, and never assume you know everything when it comes to good business communication. For your individual efforts, test different formats and styles to see what works best when connecting with your unique audience and always be open to feedback. You may consider to follow the “Principles of Communication” and adhere to the, “Ethics of communication” to reach the “pinnacle of success in your Business career”.
If you could communicate well, then perhaps you may even conquer and rule the business world.
The writer is a pharma trainer and a practitioner of “Professional Communication Skills”.