“I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Robert McCloskey, US State Department spokesman

Being understood by your customer may be the most important aspect of selling. If they don’t get what you said, then you are setting yourself up for problems which could include false expectations, confusion, resentment, or even worse, a lost customer. Generally speaking, being misunderstood is avoidable.

Here are few ideas to help you be better understood by your customers:

– Speak slowly. Say what you mean and say no more. Don’t fill the dead air with unnecessary words.

– Avoid clichés which can be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

– Slow down, stop talking, and listen. Listen to what the customer has to say about what you said. Give them time to react.

– Ask if they understand you. Pause and verify that they got it. If not, try again.

– Repeat what you said. Repeat what you said. Repeat what you said.

– Give examples of what you mean. Be specific.

– Tell stories. Facts tell and stories sell. Stories help the other person visualize what you mean. Stories are also remembered.

– Put what you said in writing. This helps avoid “he said she said” situations. Written statements can also smoke out misunderstandings.

– Always tell the truth. This way you won’t have to remember anything.

Being understood by your customer starts with you.

John Bradley Jackson
© Copyright 2006 All rights reserved.
My new book “First, Best, or Different” is now available at www.firstbestordifferent.com!
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  1. Steven Jaksch

    Being in Financial Services this is of the utmost importance. There are so many technical terminologies and even terms used specifically by my company that may be meaningless to a client/prospect. Initially in meetings its really best to ask a lot of open ended questions and get a feel for what level the client/prospect is. Then when you are starting your side of the discussion to use the clients own words with them so they have a better understanding of what you are saying. It is a good practice to always ask confirming questions to make sure that what you said is clear to them. I had an experience with a client explaining two seperate investments that I had to go through four or five times in different ways till she finally got it.

    When our clients don’t understand what we are saying, it is our fault for not putting it into words they understand.

  2. Steve,

    Well said. The language of financial services is a world of its own.

    The use of questions is great technique to confirm that they understand.

    Patience is key because they need to understand you before they can buy from you.


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