Talking To Clients

The primary function of most businesses is to make money through the sales of some sort of good or service.  Whether a business sells something relatively pricey, like cars or homes, or something cheaper, like paper or chewing gum, they have clients that they have to sell to.  Granted, car salesmen have a more important interaction with clients than people that work in the check out lane at Wal-Mart, but client relationships are still very important either way.

In my opinion, one of the most important, if not the most important piece of client relationships is talking to them at their level.  That can mean a number of things.  First and foremost, in my opinion, it means understanding their level of knowledge in the area in which you are doing business with them.  If you are a car salesman, selling to Average Joe who doesn’t know much about cars, you shouldn’t describe the engine of the car in depth, because Average Joe will A) not necessarily be impressed with the knowledge, and B) have no clue what you’re talking about, so it does no good.  If you’re a technical person in any sense of the term, you have to be aware that most people are not technical people, and they won’t understand what you’re saying.  I had an experience once, seeing a doctor.  I had a medical issue, and I was told to go see a specialist.  The specialist was obviously very smart, and he knew what he was talking about.  He was telling me all of these things about my issue, but I didn’t understand every other word that he said.  He then told me what I needed to do until my next appointment with him, several months, and again, I din’t really understand what he needed me to do.  Luckily, my mom, who is an RN, understood him, and she translated it to what I would consider normal language, and I understood.

There are other things to consider when adapting your language to clients.  One is the client’s gender.  Like it or not, men and women respond differently to different types of verbal and nonverbal communication.  There are certainly exceptions, but as a general rule, I think that people dealing with clients should consider the client’s gender when speaking with them.  Dwight Schrute does not understand this, and the women of Dunder Mifflin Scranton try their best to help him with this when they try to sell to the female CEO of the Scranton White Pages, which could be their biggest client if they secure the sale:

Generational differences are also important.  Millennials and baby boomers look at the world from two completely different places, and they have totally different views of the role of business in society.  Therefore, a millennial cannot speak to a baby boomer client the same way that they’d speak to a millennial, for example.

National origins matter, as well.  Peoples’ cultures are important to consider when dealing with them.  There are customs and values that are prevalent in other parts of the world that might seem foreign to Americans, so especially when doing business internationally or when doing business with those who come from elsewhere, it is important to consider.  However, you have to be careful here as to not fall into promoting stereotypes, which is really easy to do when considering something like national origin, race, or religion.  Michael Scott failed here:

If people who deal with customers often can hone the skill of changing the way they speak to different groups of clients, I think that they can really boost client relations and therefore their business.  It can make you easier to relate to, and you can seem like a much friendlier business if you can accomplish this.

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