No matter what the subject is, exchanging by phone or even face-to-face can be tricky. At the era of e-mails, whatsapp and other chatting tools, we are not necessarily encouraged to pick-up the phone, even though a good discussion can often save a lot of time and bring the relation to the next level, not matter what this level is.
In addition to visualizing clearly what the objective of the meeting is (this will be the subject of a future post), here are a few principles to lead a good and constructive exchange.
Adaptability is not playing a role
I realized that both concepts are sometimes mixed up when I discussed with one of my team members, who had issues in having good conversations with interlocutors over the phone, no matter if they were clients, prospects, or suppliers. He mentioned that he thought he was playing the role that his interlocutor was expecting him to play, but still could feel his own lack of credibility in his interlocutor’s replies which were often expeditious.
There is a huge difference in between adaptability and playing a role. When working, especially in exports, one must demonstrate a good dose of adaptability in order to fit to the various cultures, company profiles, personalities which will be encountered.
However, like in personal life, it is essential to stay your-self, no matter the circumstances. If you end up having dinner together with a family-businessman and a multinational buyer, both guests must feel in presence of the person they know.
This lead to the second tip :
Credibility lies in Honesty
Nobody is perfect. This is important to understand and fully comprehend : nobody is perfect.
It is not possible to know everything and it is essential to assume the fact that there are questions which cannot be answered straight away, rather than trying to advance uncertain replies in a falsely confident voice.
Credibility will go with honest answers. Honest answers will lead to peace-of-mind. Peace-of-mind will lead to a nice and relaxed conversation.
Uplifting the discussion
A conversation has an objective, a question to be replied to, and information to be given.
However, whenever possible, it is good to uplift the discussion in order to take the relation to the next level.
This can be done by giving an update on the market which could be useful to the interlocutor even if he did not ask for it, by asking more details about the interlocutor’s projects, or even by sharing an idea and asking for his point of view.
The above will help in building a breeding ground to a constructive conversation, in which one of the most important skills for a successful export development will play part : Listening.
Indeed, having a solid export action plan is good, but learning how to adapt by genuinely listening and understanding the market’s feedback is key.
E-mails often stay on very basic communication level, on operational question-answer mode. As a result, this is by handling constructive conversation, by phone or face-to-face, that these key messages will be given.