In an online world, where networks develop at previously unimagined speed, it was nice, even heart-warming, to hear that personal chemistry is still top of the agenda for clients when they’re looking for the right consultancy.
I went along to the Communications Directors’ Forum annual research findings event and hearing what’s most important to our potential clients when they choose suppliers really struck a chord with me. It’s an old management adage that ‘people buy from people’ but what you might find surprising is that personal relationships were rated higher than price, innovation and product quality.
We can craft our key sales messages within an inch of their life and we can line up the best channels and tactics to segment our customers, but there’s nothing that can replace a proper conversation and a human connection with somebody who you truly need to trust.
And perhaps there’s something that the Internal Communications function can take from this. Imagine IC as the suppliers in this situation and employees as the buyers. IC might have the credentials (innovative and sophisticated tools, highly skilled professionals and knowledge of the business) but that’s not going to ‘sell’ the message and get your audience to buy into and engage with it.
So what can IC do to create this personal chemistry and build trust?
- Do your homework – Just as you would before entering a sales meeting, take the time to get to know who you are selling to. For internal communicators this means truly understanding the demographics and psychographics of your audience.
- Be visible – spend time within the business and develop a broad and deep connectivity. To optimise the effectiveness of communication, IC needs to have a close link to the Executive Team (ideally with direct IC representation). At the same time, however, IC must have a finger on the pulse. They must be in touch with word on the street, or more likely, the word on social media.
- Remember it’s not a one off purchase – You want to engage your audience and keep them coming back for more. After establishing initial chemistry, the focus should turn to building trust and therefore it’s not enough anymore to just ‘send’ or ‘broadcast’. Keep the conversation flowing and make sure it’s two way, let your audience interact with you.
So consider this when you’re crafting your next communication – what steps are you taking to build that chemistry with your audience? After all, credentials will only get you so far.