2020 is putting our communication skills to the test with us all having to up our game on how to engage our audience via email, phone, video and chat. This article is aimed at giving you some best practices to follow when handling potential clients in chat environments.
With virtual platforms becoming a hot spot for identifying potential partners and clients it is important, now more than ever, to understand how to engage and generate meaningful interactions. This can range from starting conversations via popular platforms like LinkedIn to webinars, virtual events and even potential leads sitting in your skype contact lists.
Do your homework
One of the most important steps is to do your homework. Luckily when sitting behind our keyboards, we have at our fingertips the ability to visit profiles and the brand websites that individuals represent. If you are starting a conversation from scratch, show that you are interested in what they do by taking some time to visit their domain and note down talking points such as what their niche is, what products are being offered and how they are promoting themselves. Think about what challenges they may be facing and find common ground.
We are humans, not robots (at least most of us anyway!). Even robotic chat solutions are built to mimic humans, so you have the upper hand (and fingers in this case). You should be LISTENING to what they are saying. Do not listen to respond, listen to UNDERSTAND. Ask questions and engage in a real conversation, even switch to a voice or video call if they agree, which makes the interaction that much more personal.
When things get fast-paced, it is easy to rush to reply, be “short” and sometimes grant ourselves permission when we may be overstepping. Being polite and asking for the opportunity to speak and/or introduce ourselves still counts for something. We may have multiple chats running at the same time, so it's important to be conscious of who we are talking to and not be too eager to hit send. Also keep in mind that our tone can be read so be mindful of sarcasm. Once written a word cannot be easily taken back, so make sure you keep it positive.
Always be closing - except the chat window :)
As with any conversation, go into any chat interaction with a primary and secondary goal in mind. If it's not directly closing a deal, make sure that learning is part of your overall goal for every interaction. Finding out new information about a client's plans or needs are just as important and can strengthen your position for future encounters. Be conscious of what they are saying. Finally, always set an action item and communicate it to them. “I will send an email” or “Let’s talk tomorrow” and follow through.
Don’t be a litterbug
It can be tempting especially in a group chat setting to want to stay “in screen”, which is fine as long as you are offering relevant information and not monopolising a conversation. Remember that chat means “a friendly or informal conversation” it does not mean “ad board”. Your contribution of insights or experience will speak much louder than cold pitches or contact details, those have their place elsewhere.
Most of the above may be common sense, but in the heat of the moment, that can go out of the window, so bear these in mind. We would be more than happy to hear your tips & tricks for successful chatting so let’s chat!
Author - Sarah Henry, Chief Operating Officer at Ultimate Fintech