I have always valued the power of communication. When I entered college, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to study. I realized that although I was “good” at many things in school, there was one thing I excelled at – communication. I was a strong writer, and an even stronger speaker. I saw that when most of my classmates dreaded speaking in front of others, that I always enjoyed the experience, and was excited by it. This was the turning point when I decided to focus my career in communications and marketing.
The power of effective communication cannot be underestimated. It is a critical component of life. I’ve seen the impact of effective and ineffective communication in many types of businesses. Ineffective communication has the ability to break businesses. If you can’t communicate effectively with your customers, your intended messages won’t be received or understood – it’s like you’re speaking an entirely different language from them.
So how can you speak the same language as your sourcing clients?
I’ve worked with many companies that provide services and solutions to sourcing and procurement professionals. It’s very clear what separates the successful providers from the rest of the pack – effective communication with their clients. In order to serve and advise sourcing clients in the best way possible, your team must be able to communicate to them through a common language of sourcing. It’s not just about being highly knowledgeable and educated on all things sourcing, it’s about effectively communicating by speaking their language.
Here’s how you can grow your business and better serve your clients through effective communication:
- Be honest with yourself about “what” you know. Unless you came from the practitioner side, the chances are that your knowledge of sourcing has come mainly from a sell-side perspective. In other words, you may know how to sell to your sourcing clients…but do you know their challenges? Their pain points? Do you know what keeps them up at night?
- Put on their hat. Take a step back and think from their point of view. You may well have the best (fill in the blank) technology on the planet, but unless you understand the challenges your clients are facing, then you are likely to find resistance to your “sales calls.” On that note…
- Be a partner, not a promoter. One thing that is quite clear from SIG events is that Fortune 1000 executives do not like being sold to…but they are anxious to hear best practices and learn from others. If you approach your interactions with potential clients as someone who is collaborating with them instead of selling to them, you may discover that they are more likely to answer when you call. But you can’t really collaborate effectively unless you can speak the same language, so…
- Level the playing field. Educate yourself. Don’t assume that knowing the in’s and out’s of your product or service are all your potential clients want to hear. They want to know that you understand why your offering will serve them well, and frankly the only way you can do that is if you can talk the talk. Read blogs. Scan articles. Go to conferences. Look for relevant certifications. Your prospects are learning and growing with certifications and training. If you want to be a provider of choice, it behooves you to do the same. Most importantly, though…
- Listen. Possibly the most important part of communicating effectively is being able to listen. Don’t approach meetings as an opportunity for you to pitch. Approach them as a chance for you to learn. Ask questions. Find out what challenges your clients need to solve. Let them do the talking. When you do speak, use the language of sourcing. If you can talk their talk and if you are listening to their concerns, they will begin to see you more as a partner and less as a salesperson.
In a hyper-competitive environment, you need every possible advantage, and nothing will prepare you more than learning how to speak the language of sourcing.
Heather Young is a Senior Marketing Manager with SIG. She has more than 10 years of experience in business and marketing. Prior to joining SIG's marketing team, Heather was leading digital marketing for outsourcing, recruiting and workforce management at Allegis Global Solutions. Before joining Allegis Global Solutions, Heather managed the marketing department at a consulting company in Washington, D.C. Heather has a passion for philanthropy and is actively involved with non-profit organizations locally and nationally. She was the spokesperson of a two-year nationwide campaign to increase awareness of missing persons and teach safety education. Heather has a BS in Corporate Communication from the University of Baltimore.