If you work in business communication, you are paid to connect with, and influence the thinking and behavior of, certain people—your selected public, target market, or customer segment. You want to get their attention, listen to them, connect emotionally and to think, feel and act in a mutually beneficial way.
So, you often start with a set of basic questions: Who are these people? What do they want and need? How can my product or service help meet this want or need? How can I make it easy for them to access and purchase my product or service? How can I best support them as customers and encourage them to trust me and buy from me again? How can I get them to refer me to others, to recommend me, to friend or like me?
At the heart of all interactions with our customers is a relationship, and that relationship is best built through conversations, whether online or in person. Without the relationship, our interactions with our customers are, at best, transactional.
Over 25 years of research, watching and recording the patterns of interaction between customers and the people who market and sell to them, my firm has identified three patterns of interaction, which we call the “levels of conversations.” Understanding these three levels opens up a whole new way of engaging with our markets, in a way that builds connection and potential for long-term relationships that extend well beyond the first contact.
Case study: Boehringer Ingelheim
One of my first clients was Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), a global pharmaceutical company that hired me to work with its sales training and development group. When we started the project, BI sales representatives were not getting as many appointments with doctors—who make decisions about what drugs to prescribe—as representatives from other pharmaceutical companies,...
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