How Communications Training Can Build — and Repair — Client Relationships

Sales leaders, we’ve all been there. It usually goes like this: You’ve been working with a partner or client for a few weeks or a few months, but things just aren’t clicking. The conversation stalls or the discussion goes dark. Something’s wrong, but you can’t put your finger on what it is. All you know is that, for some reason, you’re no longer moving forward.

If this sounds familiar, you might be focused on trying many varied tactics to reignite the relationship — tempted to offer discounts or offer deals or ignore the situation completely. But that doesn’t mend the situation.

In this article, we’ll introduce a different strategy to combat stalled conversations — better communication! We’ll talk about how these struggling relationships get created, and what you can do to repair them — and avoid situations like these in the future.

Sometimes Client-Seller Relationships Need Some Help — But Why?

If you feel that you’re just not connecting with a customer or prospect, it’s likely that you both have a too-narrow view of the relationship. In other words, you’re expecting something from your client, and they’re expecting something from you. But there’s no alignment between each of your expectations. Or, perhaps there is a sore spot in the relationship that needs to be addressed.

Improved Communication is a Likely Solution for Strained Relationships

There are many ways to rebuild a strained relationship. The next time you find your relationship with a client is stalling, consider these strategies for improving communication.

Reassess your approach

When relationships are strained, reassessing your approach to communication can allow you to reset the relationship, even potentially starting fresh with a new strategy. To do this, think about the ways you’ve communicated in the past. What were your strategies that worked and didn’t work? What kind of responses did you get based on how you communicated?

Identify and acknowledge the problem

Before you can resolve a problem, you must agree that a problem exists. This helps you get started working on a mutually acceptable solution. To start, try talking with your client or prospect about the communication you’ve had with them to date. Listen to their feedback and learn from their experience.

Once you and the client or prospect fully understand what has gone wrong, you can negotiate a resolution that meets both of your needs.

Focus on facts

When you sit down to talk with your client about your communication challenges, start the conversation by outlining the facts. Determine the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your shared experience, and work to remain objective. It can be easy to be blinded by your personal opinions, but it’s critical to ensure that emotions don’t get in the way of solving the problem. Use this conversation to identify the key information that will help you move forward in your relationship.

Address the issues

Once you’ve identified the problems in your relationship, and how those are reflected in your communication practices, you can begin working to fix them. You can resolve disputes or problems in a constructive way by addressing the issues, identifying the necessary improvements, and setting expectations going forward.

When you approach this task, you must get inside your audience’s shoes. Take on their perspective to better understand it. Then, develop a big idea that supports your audience’s needs and delivers a compelling outcome for them.

Make sure you continue to listen

An undervalued component of communication strategy is listening. Without it, you do not have a way to craft a communication that will address their needs. As you work with your client or prospect to repair and improve your relationship, you’ll need to do a lot of listening before you can offer an effective solution. But even after you’ve agreed on a course of action to make things better going forward, you must continue to practice listening. When your client offers feedback, take it into consideration as you move forward. And if your client doesn’t offer feedback, consider asking them for their suggestions and reflections periodically. Not only will this help you ensure you’re meeting your client’s needs, but it will also build trust.

Training Can Help You Revive Client Relationships

The strategy outlined above cannot be successful without clear, effective communication. So how do you ensure that your communication will be effective, and what does this effective communication look like? Consider investing in training to build your communication skills and develop effective strategies.

Try business storytelling training

Business storytelling training — and using a storytelling framework — can help make communication easier to understand. Imagine if you had a roadmap for clearly articulating the why, what, and how of the story that you can share with clients or prospects. This clear and focused communication can keep the lines open and enable you to meet them where they are.

Effective communication facilitates the seller’s ability to respond to the needs of buyers, helping avoid the “sore spots” that can strain relationships in the first place. Not only that, business storytelling training can help your team develop executive presence, a critical skill in relationship-building, which will set you up for success down the road.

It is also important to consider the needs of your prospects or clients. Maybe they would appreciate having information presented visually. Maybe they like facts and data. Enabling your sales team to perfect storytelling with data can develop skills that sellers may not normally have but need to be successful.

Struggling Relationships are an Invitation to Better Communication

If your team is struggling to build and maintain relationships with clients and prospects, poor communication is a likely culprit, whether it initially feels that way or not. While resetting and listening are important first steps, it is critical to enable your team with tools to help them reset and build a strong foundation for future growth with the client.

Communications training — learning how to build clear, relevant stories using the why, what and how of the solution to build on — will not only allow your sellers to communicate more clearly, but also build stronger relationships and potentially sell bigger deals.

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