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4 Ways to Ace Client Communication

Dr. Sandra Folk  of The Language Lab joins us again with her timely communication approach to hitting the ball in court every time! Many thanks to Sandra for this on-target advice:

Communicattion is like tennisI love tennis!  And every time there’s a major tennis tournament, like the upcoming US Open, I stayed glued to the TV screen watching the tennis greats.  What makes tennis so entertaining to watch is the way the game builds and the tension rises. There’s a certain arc to it that creates a lot of anticipation and excitement for the spectator.

Watching all these outstanding players make their well executed moves on the court, got me thinking that playing tennis is a lot like developing effective client relationships, especially with potential ones. To illustrate what I mean, first take a look at my breakdown of the stages of a tennis match.

1/ The match opens with cordiality between players; it’s a gentleman’s sport, after all.  But professional players are well schooled, they learn a great deal about each other in advance. They spend hours watching videos of their opponents making sure they understand each other’s habits, techniques, and abilities.

2/Then there’s the warm up where players face each other across the court, hitting the ball back and forth, skillfully, but in warm up mode.

3/Once warmed up, the game begins. That’s when rallying picks up in intensity and drive.

tennis is like communication4/A winner is declared after each set, with the best out of three or five winning the match.  Each set has a minimum of six games, which can only be won by a lead of two games. As you well imagine, a tennis match can go on for a long time, requiring quite a bit of patience.

If you think about the above points, you’ll see that there not really that dissimilar from the way in which we might engage with a new client — if you want to have a successful relationship.  So here are 4 ways to ensure your client encounters result in a winning outcome.

Four ways to Ace Your Client Communication

1/ Pre-Game: Do your research. Learn all you can about your client’s strengths, about whom they’ve done business with, and anything else about their habits and preferred ways of doing business. Use Google and LinkedIn, both useful tools, to gather information before that important first time meeting.

2/Warm-up: During the meeting, be prepared to focus, listen, and observe. Save the hard sell for later.

3/The rally: Make sure to follow up with ideas regarding how you would help improve this person’s business, or present her/him with solutions to problems that were introduced at that first meeting. And if you’re going to engage in an ongoing business relationship, there’s always that important back and forth discussion about a financial agreement.

communication is winning4/Game, set, match: Stay cordial, focused, and genuine with the help you offer and you’ll have a really good chance of “winning” the match.  The only quirk in my business/tennis analogy is this: in business, there isn’t just one victor; it’s win-win for all.  Both client and service provider walk away winners, providing no one loses her/his temper and throws down the racquet!

If you have any other tips for building or maintaining successful client relationships, you can share your story or comments with Sandra Folk.

Dr. Sandra Folk is founder of the Language Lab, an organization devoted to helping companies save money and to making their employees look good by improving their business writing and presentation skills.

You can read more about her on our Expert Contributor page, and if you’ve ever heard about asking the right questions to get the right answers, you can read her 7 Tips on Asking the Right Questions.”


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