Not Winning Accounts? Analyze Your Business Communication SkillsApril 12, 2021 | By Wayne O'Neill
There are many reasons why your firm may not be winning accounts as often or as quickly as you would prefer. Sometimes, there is a simple explanation. Your business communication skills need work.
I’m not saying that you need to write better emails to prospects or come up with fancier presentations to target clients. It’s not necessarily “how” your message is being delivered. It’s likely that your firm needs to work on the “who,” the “what,” and the “why” of communication.
Plus, you may be accustomed to only focusing on external communication with target prospects that you’ve forgotten about an important starting point. Have you analyzed internal communication with your team about their sales strategy and activities?
Improve Business Communication Skills By Focusing Inwardly
In the virtual working world that we live in post-pandemic, it’s easy for your sales team to fall back into old habits of client engagement and old ways of thinking about the type of clients to pursue. The independence that comes with working in a separate physical location can often lead to a lack of accountability. Address this through strong internal communication.
It’s up to you as a leader in the organization to proactively break silo thinking, ask pointed questions, continually work at refining the sales strategy, and hold your sales team accountable for following the strategy.
This layer of internal communication starts with ensuring that your sales team is identifying smart clients to pursue. This is where you need to ask strong “who” type questions to your team:
- Is this the right client that we should be pursuing?
- Are we just another firm responding to an RFP?
- Does this client understand the impact we will have on their business?
- Can we locate the leader in the organization who understands our impact?
- Who are the better clients that we could be pursuing?
Many firms get stuck because they miss this step of making sure they are starting on the right path of client engagement. Or, if you believe you are on the right path pursuing a smart client, you could get stuck at the next step of not understanding what is actually happening inside the client’s business or industry.
As a leader, you need to make sure your team has a deep understanding of the business and political issues that impact the client’s decision-making. These issues could be dramatically different post-pandemic, which is why you need to work on your business communication skills of questioning everything during your team’s discovery phase.
Focus on asking “what” questions to your team. You may even need to circle back to your “who” questions to make sure your team has a strong understanding of who owns these issues.
- What are the primary business and political issues in-play for your target client?
- What are the primary changes to your client’s target market post-pandemic?
- Who are the new competitors in the market?
- What are new competitors doing differently trying to take market share from your client?
- Who is ultimately responsible for owning the solution to the problem?
- Who is influencing the decision-making process?
Once your internal communication is strong, your team will be equipped to find greater success in their external communication with target clients.
Improve Business Communication Skills By Applying Outwardly
The development of internal business communication skills should be applied to how your team pursues authentic connection with target clients.
This should include developing multiple paths of connection in the client organization, creating your own narrative that is connected to the client’s business and political issues, and positioning your firm to be leveraged for value and impact.
– Multiple paths of connection. The challenge for many sales teams is not understanding how to talk to unfamiliar decision-makers, influencers, gatekeepers, stakeholders, vendors, or project/scope delivery partners (P/SDPs).
Your team could be locked into one type of role they talk to gather intelligence. However, there is a treasure trove of information that can be gathered from many players. Each person or team has a unique perspective that can help your team gather intelligence they wouldn’t have gathered before to better understand the challenges your client organization is facing.
As a leader, encourage your team to develop new connections and work on their communication skills with these individuals or teams to gather necessary intelligence about key business and political issues.
– Creating your own narrative. Many sales teams get stuck because they don’t know how to connect your firm’s solution to the larger problem the client is facing. This goes back to not gathering enough intelligence about the real problem inside the organization.
There’s no worse feeling for a salesperson than finishing a presentation and hearing a statement from a client such as, “Well, I didn’t hear anything about this larger problem we are experiencing.” You can help your team avoid this.
Ask your “why?” questions to challenge your team’s understanding of the client’s problem. This will strengthen your team’s ability to communicate externally to the client about why your firm’s solution solves their larger problem.
– Leveraged for value and impact. The next step to actually win accounts is for your team to own the “why.” This requires the development of communication skills around how to have “why” dialogue with clients.
At this stage, the conversation shouldn’t just be about project scope, timelines, and procurement. This type of conversation is a lot more strategic and a lot more focused on the issues behind the issues.
It’s difficult to come up with those questions, but if your team did their homework and if you challenged them about their understanding of the larger problem, they will be better positioned to communicate effectively about why your firm should be selected to solve the larger problem the organization is facing. This is how you are leveraged for value and impact to win accounts and more project scope, not just show up and get hired.
Work With RESET To Develop Business Communication Skills
Developing business communication skills for internal and external purposes requires a strong commitment to the process. It won’t happen overnight. And, if you think it’s like a light switch that you can turn on and off, then you’ll end up missing key steps along the way.
I can assure you, though, that the effort you put into the process will help produce the results you are looking for winning more accounts. We’ll help you along the way. We provide coaching on key communication skills.
– Perhaps you’re not holding your teams accountable for the types of clients they are pursuing and you don’t know how to have this conversation with your sales team.
– Perhaps you’re not asking the right questions before your sales team presents a solution to the target client and you don’t know which questions you should be asking.
Talk to us today about scheduling a consultation to discuss your communication skills. Through our coaching sessions, we’ll work on developing skills and providing coaching to your team. We’re here to help your firm grow by winning more project scope and larger pieces of scope.