I work with many sales executives on creating an action plan to apply to their customers and prospects. Quite often, I hear comments like, “But my customer is different” or “This prospect is different” or “They’re not quite ready to buy”.

Listen, I know that there is no cookie-cutter solution to selling. Customers do vary. Their needs are different. Their time frames can range from “right now” to just kicking tires.

But whether they’re chomping at the bit to buy or just considering their options, one thing is consistent from customer to customer: their need for communication. Everyone wants communication, and when it doesn’t exist—or is weak—you lose. A breakdown in communication is the most common reason for break-ups—whether a romantic relationship, a family riff, or a business deal. As a sales professional, you need to be a sharp communicator.

That means you need to be in tune with the needs of every single prospect and customer. When you’re not sure what they want, ask. Tell them you want to be certain you’re focusing on getting them the right information because you value their time. Your interest will be apparent to—and appreciated by—the buyer.

Remember, no one wants to feel like the recipient of a one-size-fits-all approach. They don’t like canned responses. When you can make them feel like the individuals they are, you communicate your value as a trusted advisor and problem-solver. Every piece of communication should build on and reinforce this impression.

And everyone appreciates responsiveness. The longer it takes you to answer a phone, email, or online query, the less likely you are to close the deal. The most common negative responses I get when talking with prospects who didn’t close a deal with a certain sales professional are, “I never heard back” or “I didn’t get the information I needed.”

There’s no excuse for that!

“But I don’t want to be a pest.”

I know what it’s like to walk into a store and have a salesperson crawl all over me. I simply respond, “Thank you. I’m just looking and will let you know if I need your help. I simply want to browse right now.”

Ask your customers their preference for communication. Is it email or phone? Let them know you want to be responsive, but not over-zealous. Encourage them to let you know when you’ve crossed that line.

The need for communication is not a variable. This fundamental principle will not change from customer to customer—the medium and frequency will, but not the need. Embrace the reality and open up the channels of communication with every, single prospect and customer.

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