You are busy! Not sure when the change happened, or when exactly the pace of our lives ramped up so drastically into this total chaos and insanity, but you, I and everyone else I know, we are way over-scheduled with far too much to do. In this age of so much white noise, getting your message in front of prospects — your customers — has become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. Then, just to add to it all, the whole complication and confusion of how to do it. Should you email, call, send a text, send a handwritten note . . .  what is the best way to communicate?

I get asked this question all the time when I am speaking or consulting. People want to know: what is the best way to stay in touch? What is the best way to follow up with clients and stand out from the competition? The answer to this question is actually pretty straightforward, yet most sales people don’t know it or practice it. In fact, most sales people violate it without even realizing it, and often it costs them tremendous opportunity. Why, because the question people are really asking me is, “What is the best way to communicate with clients?” What they want to know is how to communicate in a way that builds trust with prospects and clients, and opens the door to more opportunity.

And I get it. I know why this is the question people ask, because we fundamentally understand that communication is powerful. We can easily recognize when people are good at it, and when they struggle, and how much of a difference it makes in their ability to build relationships and get ahead in life. Communication is how we emotionally connect. In sales it is how we emotionally connect with our prospects and our clients. Sales, at the end of the day, after all, is all about emotional connection. The better you are able to connect, especially in this economy, the Trust & Value Economy, the better your ability to build relationships, grow your business, increase your referrals and maximize your profits. It may be that easy, but it’s not that simple.

Why? Because we define communication as the words we speak or write, when it truly goes much deeper than that. We tend to communicate with other people in the way that we want to be communicated with. We assume everyone in life is like us, when nothing could be further from the truth. How, when and why you communicate with your clients sends a message of how well you know them, listen to them, value their needs, and understand their priorities. Think about that: far more than your words, your actions speak volumes. You need to communicate with your prospects and your clients in the way they want to be communicated with, not the way you like to be communicated with.

My husband sees patients all day long, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. He has a hard and fast rule: if you are not his patient or his employee, then outside of an emergency, you cannot talk to him. He wants to be totally focused on his patients’ needs.  When he gets home at night, the last thing he wants to do is sit down in his office, turn on his computer and answer his email; in fact he never does. He, at most, checks email twice a week.  Yet texts and phone calls he responds to immediately. He loves to come home after work, take a walk or work out, then sit in the living room or on the front porch in the rocker and talk on the phone and “get things knocked out” as he likes to say. He loves to text as well because  it is short, sweet and to the point.

He likes both of these forms of communication, because they allow him to sit anywhere he wants to and not have to lug a laptop or even an IPAD around. For him, this is easy. Anyone who knows him very well, or bothers to get to know him very well, knows that one way to not get his attention is to email him.

Me, on the other hand, I am all about email. I love it! I speak for a living, sell for a living, and coach for a living. I feel like I talk all day long. I love email because it is quick and to the point. I can schedule appointments and avoid phone tag and lengthy conversations. Now that is my favorite way to communicate. But when it comes to my clients, that is a whole different story. How I communicate with them, where I put my time and energy,  depends one-hundred percent on how they like to communicate. If they are telephone users I call them. With emailers I use that, and with some of my clients it has to be face-to-face. They do not want to discuss anything of significance or importance via phone.

When I immediately adjust my style to that of my clients, I send them a message that says I care, I understand and I am listening; that this relationship will always be more about them than it is about me. I say all of that without ever opening my mouth, without ever speaking about it.

Don’t believe me? Try it! Next time a sales person gets in touch with you via your non-preferred form of communication, send them a note back in the way you like to communicate. If they respond in their preferred form, pay attention to how irritated it makes you feel. Think about your clients and how they like to communicate. Then make an effort to communicate with them the way they want to communicate. See how much better and stronger your relationship becomes!