When All Other Forms of Communication Fail, Try Using Words –Anonymous quotation
Though a couple of weeks have passed, I am still dwelling on having crossed the finish line of my first 5K, completed on a Bahamian island, alone, with no family cheering my accomplishment of hitting a goal I had set for myself. But, as I pondered last week what went wrong and why I felt so disappointed in the outcome even though I hit my goal, I realized it was a combination of my expectations being out of line with reality, and poor communication.
I had wanted to surprise my daughters with my 5K finish (Who knew Mom could do that!?!). But, as I wrote last week, my husband had developed a cold and didn't communicate to my daughters A) that I was doing a 5K, and B) that they were to meet me HOPEFULLY at the finish line, but at least at a point on the beach. I spent a lonely day on the beach, and they spent the day wondering where I was.
My expectation that they would be beaming proudly at the finish line, after which the three of us would sip rum drinks and lounge on floats in the water was only a bit out of whack. The problem was that I didn’t adequately communicate my expectations, and definitely didn't communicate them with the right person. We had a whiteboard in our room for leaving messages for each other. In my haste, I told my Nyquil-medicated husband to tell the girls to meet me, even though I knew he can sometimes be a tad bit forgetful about relaying messages.
Similar scenarios happen all too often in media sales. We may be fearful about setting realistic expectations for our clients. They then get ready for the crowd of hundreds who will beat down their door the day their first spots air, or they add personnel and order trinkets for the throngs that will come during the two-hour personal appearance by our talent. As I blogged last week, we should not be afraid to tell them that it takes time – frequency and consistency – to get results with advertising. We should not be afraid to tell them that every idea may not work due to a wide variety of reasons.
But we also need to be sure we are communicating well and with the right people.
- Realize that the person writing the check may not be the person who will be most impacted by the results. I should have thought more about my daughters and made sure everyone knew where I was and what I wanted to happen on run day. For you in media sales, at a small business, for example, the person to whom you sold the schedule may not be the one making sure that clerks and salespeople know what is being advertised. Car dealers’ sales managers may want to have an additional salesperson if your event really will draw in a crowd. Anticipate how your advertising will impact their business and help them prepare.
- Communicate with both the decision maker and others who may be impacted. I should have talked face-to-face both with my daughters and my husband, especially since I know he is message-challenged. You can offer to help educate your client’s sales staff about the incentive you will be advertising. Keep everyone at all levels involved and in the loop as campaigns begin and run. A good CRM system where you can store multiple contacts per account can really help you here.
- Write it down. I should have utilized the whiteboard in our room. Emails are great confirmations and will provide a record of messages received. A conversation will help ensure your client is engaged.
- Talk to people. I mean this literally. Don't JUST rely on email. Talking to people is immediate give and take, and if there is any conflict – about expectations, times, location or whatever – they can be resolved right away.
- Communicate after the fact. Clear the air. I am the queen of saying, “it’s ok” when it really isn’t. Your clients may be that way also. If things didn't go as planned, don't run from it. Have an open discussion with the client and their influencers and reset expectations. Renewals will come from satisfied customers who are seeing results.
No worries, Blog Friends, as I will get over this after I run my next 5K in a couple of weeks with zombies chasing us runners. But I have learned to keep my expectations in line with reality and communicate better. Those two things will help you with your media sales customers, too!
By Kitty Malone, Efficio Solutions Manager of Client Services