Today we have many methods of communications. But which ones are the most appropriate for what kinds of communication? When should we use in-person, video conferencing, phone, email, or text? Some folks favor one form over another, but each has its place and should be used accordingly. Here is our short list for communications etiquette.
- In-Person: This is still, by far, the most effective way to establish a relationship. You have a chance to read body language and so do they. You demonstrate your undivided attention by your presence. The time you have taken to physically be there also adds to your credibility. In-person is best for first meetings and important negotiations. It’s also a great way to diffuse any misunderstanding.
- Video Conferencing: If you can’t meet in person, video conferencing is the way to go. It’s live, it’s real-time and it has many of the advantages of an in-person meeting. You can read the other person’s facial expressions to see if they get it, or if they have issues, you can address you can address them on the spot. Many misunderstandings are avoided by face-to-face conversation. We like to set up a video conference with anyone we are considering doing business with. It breaks the ice and they can see that we are real human beings, same as they are.
- Phone: We have a client who is in the relationship sales business who says, “We have mastered an ancient form of communication: the telephone!” Before you laugh too hard, he has determined that phone sales are 108 times more effective than email sales. Why? Because you can hear the tone of the other person’s voice and make changes on the fly. You can give explanations quickly that would take mountains of back and forth emails. And your sincerity can be heard in your voice.
- Email: We believe the best use of email is to document or flesh out agreements made in real-time. We send an email on the heels of a real-time meeting that basically says, “These are the understandings we have as a result of our meeting today. Please let us know before 5pm if we have anything incorrect. Otherwise we will proceed based on these understandings.” Email is a great way to memorialize conversations, but as a sales tool it is grossly abused, overused, and opened less and less. When it comes to requests, we like to ask for only one thing per email. If you ask for a list of things, the other person will generally only respond to the last thing on your list, causing you to go back and ask for all the others to be answered. Oh, and if you have a misunderstanding on email, pick up the phone and resolve it quickly. Don’t get into an email argument! And lastly, there are some things that should never be in email unless you want to live them down forever.
- Text: This is a great way to coordinate meeting details with someone who is in the final legs of coming to visit. It’s also a great way to carry on a conversation with someone you are already familiar with and want to give them a chance to respond at their leisure (unlike the phone). Texts should be short and to the point – no more than three lines at a time. Make sure ahead of time that the other person agrees to being texted so they will keep their phone on.
All of these methods of communication have their place, advantages, and disadvantages. When you use them correctly you will have less misunderstandings and more improved relationships.
Who We Are
Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.
Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.
They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.
Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at www.consumerbrandbuilders.com.
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