Client Relationships: How Attuned are You?

If marketing “gurus” are all sounding alike these days, you can probably blame Daniel Pink.

Also, marketers might need to get out a little more.

Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human has been quietly changing the way sales and marketing is done since its publication in 2012.  In it he helps marketers see that we need to attune ourselves to the emotions, actions, attitudes and mannerisms of our customers. This attunement process, he says, leads to greater empathy and larger sales.

Marketers listened.

The problem is, the people we have all attuned to is….each other! In the process we have learned to mimic each other’s emotions, actions and attitudes. We forgot our purpose.

The Customer.

Redirect all that fine-tuned listening and mimicking (which is how we build empathy) to the customer. Once we do that, we should all start sounding like ourselves, instead of content creation parrots!

Some hints from Daniel Pink on how to build your client empathy:

  1. Reduce your power level status. The higher we climb in the hierarchy, the more likely we are to assume our opinions are the correct ones. It’s just a fact of life. We assume, for instance, that a text is written with sarcasm or a client just LOVES your latest campaign. It may not be true. Step out of your own role for a moment in time and look for alternate explanations of your client’s behavior. Actively seek the other’s perspective.
  2. Learn to “read the table.” Pink reminds us that no decision maker is an island, even if they believe they are. There is a finely tuned social cartography, or map of the social relationships, in place at your client’s table. The better you are at recognizing that social web, the more you will take their perspective and the more effective your conversions will be. For marketers, this means writing not only to your specific buyer persona, but also to his or her boss, their clients, their peers. Keep in mind the social milieu in which they find themselves from day to day. Exhorting a marketing director to initiate a new campaign strategy, for instance, is useless without also providing him with the tools to sway his boss and achieve buy-in from the sales team.
  3. Practice mimicking your customers. Do this subtly, but studies show humans respond well to other humans who are using similar gestures and are repeating back their own words. The key to this technique, however, is to use it with great humility. Remember you are not trying to manipulate your customers, but to build a bridge from your world to theirs.
  4. Finally, and sometime most importantly, know when to shut up! The classic, pushy salesperson personality doesn’t usually triumph over a more attuned, flexible personality. Be willing to listen and empathize rather than make one more point in a sales “presentation.” This applies to writing as well as in person conversations.

So…with point number 4 firmly in mind, it’s time for me to shut up.

Check out Daniel Pink’s book and remember how to humanize your content.