Customers’ expectations are higher than ever. So, it is up to us to do our homework and make sure that we have all the information we need to provide them with streamlined, seamless, and flawless conversations. These does not refer uniquely to support conversations, any conversation counts! Are you making sure that your interactions are up to your customers standards?
Molly Gilson, Manager Customer Support Services at HubSpot, guided us through a practical guide on how to speak persuasively and better help our customers. Despite the bad reputation that it has been attributed to the term persuasion, it simply refers to being good a communicating. Carrying a persuasive conversation involves presenting information in the best possible way for your customers to know that you are in the same side of the table.
Persuasion comes through Emotional Intelligence
When researching what makes a conversation persuasive, Molly started looking into the concept of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the capacity to being aware of and expressing our own emotions while being able to handle interpersonal relationships in an empathetic manner. If your role includes, in any way, interactions with another human being, looking into how emotional intelligence can improve your customer experience can surprise you!
In 2019, a study from Harvard Business Review found that organisations that emphasise emotional intelligence had higher customer loyalty! Applying emotional intelligence to their business philosophy also led to greater productivity and profitability. Some of these organisations decided to also train their staff in emotional intelligent, improving their engagement with clients and having a much more satisfied clientele.
3 Tactics to Start a Persuasive Conversation
The most important part of a conversation comes before you meet up with the person that you will be speaking with. Preparing correctly for what is about to come can be crucial to ensure the correct outcome of the conversation, as well as the quality of the interactions that you will be able to respond with when trying to offer the customer your best possible solution.
#1 Prepare Yourself
Before you even start a conversation, if you want it to be persuasive, you should know what your goal is. You should have an intuition on the direction of the conversation, as well as the ideal outcome that you would be looking out for. The best way to achieve an optimal conversation, believe it or not, is openly talking about the goal that you are trying to accomplish, helping you and your customer stablish a common ground.
#2 Do Your Research
Knowledge is power, particularly when it comes to persuasion. You should be thoughtful of the person that you will be having the conversation with. You should look at any information that you have of this prospect on your CRM, as well as at their social media profile or their website, to gain an in-depth understanding of their situation. If that information is not available, give them a call and demonstrate that you truly care about your customers.
#3 Active Listening
Have you ever been in the situation where you were waiting for the other person to stop speaking so you could start? I mean, who hasn’t! The problem is that, if you were so looking forward to making your point, chances are you were not truly listening! If you are in a conversation where you want to be seen as persuasive and charismatic, pay attention and pick up on the points that the other person is making so they can see that you are taking on board their thoughts.
5 Mistakes You Make When Trying to Be Persuasive
Trying to have persuasive conversations is not a new thing! In fact, recommendations on how to get the most out of a conversation is part of traditional strategies salesmen used in the past and… I am sorry to break this to you, but we need to leave them behind. In many cases, those recommendations have been advising people into having impulsive and quick interactions that did not provide any value to the conversation.
#1 You Start the Conversation with Low-Energy
Some conversations are difficult, that is certain. But starting a conversation with pessimism or very low energy can jeopardise your efforts to achieve a greater outcome. Just as Molly says, speaking with customers, you can only get better at carrying those conversations. You are also in a learning process, and, through every interaction, you will be able to improve! Did you know that people are actually smarter when they’re in a positive mindset according to Stanford University?
#2 You Are Bringing Stress into the Conversation
Molly was clear, it is impossible to not let whatever is going on your personal life affect your job in some way. It happens! But, when speaking with a customer, it is essential that you focus on them as much as possible. If you think that you are coming up as slightly nervous or unfocused, be honest with the client and share with them that you had some things in your mind before joining the conversation, but that you are ready to give them your full attention.
#3 You are Using the Wrong Tone
Your tone matters, particularly if the conversation that you are having involves another person not using the most appropriate tone… Your tone should always be empathetic and should follow after you ask yourself the question of what tone is going to be the best to handle the situation you have in front of you. Some professionals believe matching your tone to that of the other person is best but, according to Molly, your tone should always align with the goal of your conversation which is, ultimately, to provide a solution.
#4 You are Taking it Too Personally
We have all been there but… take a deep breath! You might be the person that a customer is speaking with and, yes, they might be upset and using a tone that is not particularly good but, they are not really upset at you! They are, most likely, upset at the situation. Give yourself a chance to gather your thoughts and make clear that you are listening. Trust your own experience and try to provide your customer with the best possible answer to what they are speaking about.
#5 You are Being too Impulsive
Following Molly’s advice, “When in doubt, pause”. There is nothing that should be forcing you to speed up a conversation. If you want your interaction to finish quickly, your customer will notice it and will be put off speaking with you again. Make sure that not only you give the other person the time to express their thoughts and make their point, but that you also give yourself a moment to think about the direction of the conversation and how you would prefer approaching it.
2 Negotiation Hacks that Truly Work
Negotiation tactics can be used in a myriad of different conversations, and it is always useful to apply them when we are going into a particularly important conversation. It is like having the right tools in your toolkit! These tactics are particularly important when training a team, so your company can give a unified response when interacting with customers.
Mirroring refers to the repetition of keywords that you are hearing from the person that you are speaking with. This tactic is particularly useful when repeating the last 1-3 words that the person has said because it proves to them that you are listening. This strategy helps stablish trust and sends the other person the message that you are recognising their thoughts. Mirroring is also a great way of gathering more information, because repeating their words will help them continue with their thought process and share their views.
Labelling is often used to recognise otherwise abstract concepts, such as emotions, and enables the two people in a conversation to speak in the same terms. Terms like “frustration”, “urgency”, or phrases like “you have really looked into this”, acknowledging problematic emotions and reinforcing more positive scenarios. By contributing to define the vocabulary that will be used in the conversation, we are able to create a more interactive and participative situation with the other person.
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