I have been a coach for over seven years now and one thing that still continues to amaze me is why companies feel that during a recession, the first thing that needs to go is their training budget.
Let’s face it, in the good times, we can sit back and the phone will ring. I am not saying people necessarily get complacent; it’s just that they often don’t really have to worry about their communication.
However when the phone stops, all of a sudden we are expected to go out and knock on doors, build relationships, cold call companies who don’t want to speak to us; skills that for the vast majority of people, don’t come easily.
One of the biggest challenges for many of my clients is transitioning from technical expert to salesman. Having fantastic technical skills is crucial in terms of delivery, but it doesn’t make you an entrepreneur or partner material.
Being able to win new clients and help grow the business is key and yet these are skills very few people inherently possess.
So how do we quantify “great communication skills”? Well, firstly it’s the art of being able to translate what you know, into something your audience might actually want and need to hear. Being able to tailor the relevant bits of your knowledge to the specific needs and wants of your audience, means everything you say is relevant to their world.
Once we can demonstrate that we understand their world and we can prove that we are going to make their world a better place – people will listen.
Written content is about giving the audience information; the spoken word is about moving them from point A to point B – persuading them. Yet the vast majority of presentations and pitches are essentially a written document, overloaded with too much technical information and talking about us not them.
Great content takes the audience on a journey, it tells a great story – your story. It creates powerful visual images and invokes emotions – what most decisions are made on.
But it’s not just having great content that is key. We have to deliver it in a way that shows off our personality. Great communicators make the audience feel relaxed and appreciated. It’s about coming across with real confidence and authority irrespective of how nervous you feel inside.
It’s the old cliché but “people buy people”, we work with people we like and trust, yet under pressure, so often, we present a dry, corporate uninspiring version of ourselves.
So next time you decide to cut your training budget in order to save yourself some money, ask yourself “can you really afford to?”