Make them shut off their phones, stop multi-tasking and focus.
I know - easier said than done.
It's hard to get a buyer to do this. You can't control what they do. You can't make them listen to you. But you can find ways to entice them to stop what they are doing and listen.
I work within a team that is spread out across the world. We are on the phone literally all day long. That sounds like a dream, but I'll tell you - at the end of the day, I'm exhausted. I'd rather sit in a meeting room and focus on the conversation at hand rather than be on a phone, trying to focus. But there is the benefit of being able to work in dance/workout clothes every day - and I like that. Moving on...
The challenge with all of these calls is getting people to stop multi-tasking and listen. Everyone is so busy with things to do - emails to answers, presentation to write, work to be done - that they aren't present in the phone meeting. I can't begin to tell you how many times I have had to repeat myself in meetings because people just aren't listening. And they don't read their emails - they skim (which is obvious in some responses that ask questions which are answered in the emails or address emails to the wrong people because they are moving so fast, they didn't read the message all the way through).
I know I'm guilty of this too - and I catch myself in meetings zoning out, working on something else. I shouldn't do that - but I do.
And sure, you can make it all simpler to understand. But if people aren't even present to understand what you are saying, it's like the tree that falls in the forest - if no one is there, did it really fall? If people zone out and aren't listening, does it matter how beautiful or ugly your slides are?
I notice how executives act in meetings and on calls - they are present and they are listening. They aren't multi-tasking. Well, they do when the decisions are made and there is chit chat going on. This is why they are so effective. They have mastered the art of listening and being present.
In in-person meetings you can't escape listening. If you are messing around with your phone, someone will call you out on it. Or else, someone will ask everyone to shut off their phones. Or collect the phones before the meeting. And it is rude not to listen to someone in a meeting. You have to at least pretend.
We had something similar at jury duty (I know, I'm milking that experience for all it is worth). The bailiff gave us complex instructions for lining up and entering the courtroom to keep things organized for the scribe. Everyone did as told without question because we were listening without distraction. In the jury waiting area, we were told to shut off our phones. Sure, some of us (me included) checked email - but not while we were in the courtroom or getting orders from the bailiff. It was amazing how everyone understood instructions when they were listening and not distracted.
That's when I realized the key to getting people to listen to you and engage with you is to get them to put their distractions away and focus.
But how do you do that to a buyer that you can't order around? Here are some ideas that I came up with:
- Find something that will capture their attention for 2-3 minutes. Let them know it will only take a few minutes and it won't interfere with their day. It's like when someone asks you if you have time for taking a survey - they tell you it will take 10 minutes or so. If you have a few - you do it. If you don't - you come back later or forget it.
- Have a way for them to look at your stuff when they have a break. One challenge of social media channels can be how many updates you get in a short time and how hard it can be to find the update that captured your attention 5 minutes ago. Some people may click on the link and watch things later, but there has to be another way to remind people of what captured their interest. Email campaigns work (if you have the person's email address). If you are trying to capture someone's attention (and email address), try sending the same link out at a couple of different times of day, over a day or two, to get attention (mixed with other messages). I haven't fully solved this problem and would like to hear what has worked for you - please feel free to comment below...
- Appeal to their pain. If you are solving a problem that they have - yep, they will listen.
- Talk in their language. If they are technical people, talk technical. If they are marketing people, speak marketing.
- Be original and fun. You know what gets passed around at the office and shared? Not the boring corporate video or white paper. Remember that Landlord video from Funny or Die? Or the SNL skit with Lawrence Welk and the Sisters? Those were shared everywhere because they were funny. People took time to watch them because they were entertaining. You could say it happened because these aren't work related videos, and that's true. However, work doesn't have to be boring. We choose to make it boring. And there are fun work videos out there to...just not enough of them.
- Don't make yourself white noise. You know that person at work who arranges a bunch of meetings that drone on for hours? Or the company that just keeps talking about itself? Do you listen to those things? I know I don't. I want to hear something new and fresh - not the same old boring thing. Your buyers think the same way.
That's all I got for now.
But I'm curious...what have you done that has gotten customers to listen to your message and engaged?