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How to effectively communicate with your clients

8 min read

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Effective client communication is important for businesses. When you can get your point across clearly and effectively, it becomes easier to close a deal or create new opportunities. Effective communication also leads to attracting more customers and retaining current clients, eventually improving the bottom line.

The approach to business communication is not one size fits all. Adjustments need to be made depending on the context. For example, the way you communicate your business, brand, and products for marketing campaigns would be different from the way you communicate during the sales process.

You may also need to adjust communication styles depending on who your client may be. This is why it’s crucial that you get to know and understand your client in order to know how to best communicate your offer to them.

4 Types of Communicators

People communicate in different ways. Some may prefer to be as direct to the point as possible while others prefer to build relationships. Recognizing which type of communicator your client is may help you adjust easily and reduce miscommunication.

There are 4 different types of communicators:

1. Initiators

These communicators seek action. They speak in a no-nonsense and direct fashion. They hold direct eye contact and often make sharp gestures to highlight their points.

2. Builders

They seek appreciation and recognition. They look at the big picture and like to share their ideas. They often speak in an animated tone and make physical contact. They also use expansive gestures and descriptive language.

3. Connectors

They want to build relationships. They collaborate well with others and naturally take the carer role in a group. They also speak in lower tones and generally avoid conflict. Connectors avoid sustained eye contact and use casual gestures.

4. Discoverers

They are process-oriented and value accuracy. They share facts and data when communicating and use little inflection when speaking.

When you can recognize which type of communicator you are as well as which type your client may be, you can adjust the way you communicate in ways that will get them to listen. You can also mirror their communication style, allowing you to get your message across more efficiently.

Multiple generations of clients

Cross-Generational Communication

Effective communication also involves knowing your clients' preferred method of communication. Each generation grew up with different technological tools. They also witnessed different social and cultural movements. Understanding the nuances in communicating with people from specific generations will lead to more meaningful interactions.

Generation Z

People born after 2000 are considered Generation Z. They grew up with the internet and smartphones, and are referred to as ‘digital natives.’ They’re more comfortable communicating via social media channels and messaging apps instead of phone calls or email.

As they grew up with various communications platforms, they are used to engaging with businesses in novel ways. They aren’t comfortable with regular calls and may instead prefer messaging apps. They also prefer shorter interactions. Key messages should be supported with visual assets as Generation Z respond to visual stimuli better.

Millennials

People born between 1981 and 1997 are considered Millennials. Millennials have witnessed the rise of the digital era. They remember the pre-internet age but have also used email and Google for school. This makes them more comfortable with switching between various communications channels.

Similar to Generation Z, Millennials also don’t prefer phone calls. They are instead more comfortable with email, SMS, and messaging apps as these allow them to choose their words more carefully.

When communicating with Millennials, it is better to be concise and straight to the point. Like Generation Z, they also prefer digital rather than in-person communication.

Generation X

People born between 1965 and 1980 fall under Generation X. They have grown up with various technologies such as the VHS, Walkman, personal computers, and cellular phones. They were also the first generation to use the internet for work.

Generation X is more flexible in their preferred methods of communication. They prefer email but are also comfortable with in-person communication. They’re also adept at using social media channels and messaging apps.

(Baby) Boomers

The term “baby boomer” comes from the surge in birth after World War 2. Born between 1946 and 1964, baby boomers grew up with television as a defining technology, which led them to become more aware of global events.

Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face conversations and telephone calls, as they can deem digital communication impersonal. This means that sending messages via SMS, apps, or social media channels isn’t the best way to communicate with Baby Boomers. However, they also embrace the convenience of email.

The Traditionalists

This is a term for those born earlier than 1946. Traditionalists have lived through the Great Depression and World War 2. Growing up with handwritten letters and rotary phones, they are most comfortable with in-person communication.

Choice of Language and Tone

Words must be carefully chosen to communicate effectively. Aside from getting the message across in the most effective way, language can be filled with many nuances. Certain words may carry different meanings depending on context and history. This becomes more important in written communication, as the audience can’t rely on vocal pitch and inflection to understand underlying meanings.

Rhythm and flow are also important things to consider, as these guide the reader in knowing which parts of the text must be given more focus. It’s good for writers to read some parts of the written text aloud. Having good rhythm and flow gives a certain musicality to the text. This better engages the reader and helps them to read through the entire text without feeling exhausted.

Oral communication is different. Though word choice should also be considered, it is also important to be aware of the non-verbals. These include gestures, pitch, and inflection. Gestures can aid the listener by highlighting the important parts of the message. Pitch and inflection help shape the cadence to better engage the listener.

Tone must also be considered for both oral and written communication. It can convey emotions and objectives that are embedded underneath the words. One good way to utilize tone for effective communication is to be aware of subtext.

Subtext is a term that comes from acting. It pertains to the unsaid meanings behind words. It can also pertain to what is communicated “in between the lines”. Whenever you communicate with someone, they start to become aware of your thought process, objectives, and emotions.

There are times when we say one thing but have something else in mind. Though we may be conscious of our word choice, we can still convey other meanings subconsciously. Carefully choosing our subtext can help ensure that our words and our objectives match. Our subtext shapes our tone, which makes communication more effective.

The proper use of language and tone is important for marketing and sales. Adjusting your word choice depending on the target demographic will lead to more effective marketing campaigns. Being aware of tone and subtext will lead to more sales. Tone can spell the difference between coming across as “salesy” or coming across with the intention of better serving the customer.

Communication increases sales

Making Meaningful Interactions

Awareness of communicator types and generational nuances will help you make meaningful interactions. It’s important to make each one relevant while keeping them short but impactful.

During the marketing and sales process, try to make each interaction personal. Nobody wants to be treated like they’re a mere transaction. Show genuine interest and knowledge of their material. Take notes during conversations and refer to them later to demonstrate your understanding.

One good way to make each interaction meaningful is by adopting a service mindset. Every time you communicate with your client, ask yourself how you can provide better service. Even if clients don’t directly ask for help, adopting a service mindset immediately changes the way you communicate. Your tone, word choice, and line of questioning all change. Clients will pick up on this and will be more at ease when communicating with you.

Adopting a service mindset in every client interaction also makes it easier for you to receive feedback. This becomes especially important when dealing with negative feedback. Instead of becoming defensive, a service mindset changes the tone of the interaction. Instead, you end up focusing on providing better solutions.

Avoiding Cognitive Bias

Aside from knowing your clients’ preferred modes of communication, you should also be aware of the cognitive biases that may hinder you from fully understanding your clients.

A cognitive bias is a mental shorthand as a result of the brain's attempt to simplify the processing of information. Cognitive biases usually form from personal preferences, beliefs, and experiences. Unchecked, they can lead to errors in decision-making and cause errors in judgment.

To overcome and avoid cognitive biases affecting decision-making, awareness is the first step. Always listen to understand and listen to the facts without jumping to conclusions.

Most people prefer to hear opinions similar to theirs, from people that are similar to them. It is then important to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints and to remain open about other people’s perspectives.

Effective Communication Leads to Success

The ability to communicate well with people within and outside of your business is what will lead to success. This is because communication strengthens relationships across various areas and departments. It also leads to better decision-making and faster problem-solving.

Aside from attracting and retaining clients, clear and meaningful communication also leads to higher employee satisfaction and lower turnover rates. It also leads to creating more impactful marketing strategies, a better workflow, and an increase in productivity... and sales!

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