(MoneyWatch) Communicating effectively with your customers and prospects can help you improve your business relationships and boost your sales. These six quick tips can lead to more productive conversations:
Connection before content. Clients don't want you to sell to them. Clients want you to genuinely care about them. Take the time to build a personal connection, before talking business.
Focus on individuals not companies. You may be selling to an organization, but you're doing it through an individual. Remember: ABC Inc. did not buy our offering, JOE did.
Slow the conversation down. Your goal is to earn your client's trust by connecting with them, thereby creating a sense of safety. You can't do that if you're yakking away.
Be willing to play "little league." Even if you know there's a huge (i.e. big league) opportunity, shove your agenda aside and focus on whatever game the client wants to play right now.
Self-disclose when appropriate. Human beings buy from human beings. Rather than talk about current events, bring up family, hobbies, whatever is of real interest to you.
Engage with customers as equals. The client conversation should contain a feeling of mutuality rather than talking down to or being subservient to your clients.
This post, which originally appeared on BNET.com, is based a conversation between Geoffrey James and Fierce founder Susan Scott.