The Importance of Communication In Business
Your business cannot survive without effective communication. The importance of communication in business goes beyond just internal, it applies to clients, vendors, subcontractors, or anyone you interact with in business.
As a small business owner (marketing agency), I walked into a client’s office and sat down for our normally scheduled meeting. As I sat waiting for the client to show up I looked over the agenda and deliverables for the next month. I had intentions to change the direction of our retainer because of the data that we analyzed. I knew that the focus should change from blogging on topics to focused local SEO (the site was lacking conversion, so a local SEO program would help drive more targeted traffic).
I knew that blogging for business would increase traffic, but it was not going to get the quick hits in revenue the client was looking for. The client showed up to the meeting and we started chatting about the deliverables for the next month.
The conversation did not go as planned. “What do you mean we need to change our direction? You said that blogging would generate leads. I have a written contract that states this. I want blogs, not local SEO.”
I sat there thinking, “I am the expert, not you. Why are you questioning the direction that I am suggesting?”
Things did not go well from that point. I continued to blog for the next month. Traffic did increase, but the conversion to sales did not happen. I got a letter from the client requesting to cancel their monthly service.
“Well if you listened, you would not be canceling your service. Local search engine optimization would have driven more targeted traffic and increased sales. Blogging takes time, something you were not giving me.”
I sat there and analyzed the events that took place and came to a conclusion. I did not effectively communicate why local SEO was going to be helpful and beneficial to their business. I did not clarify the new direction based on the information that I already knew.
This was a valuable business lesson for me as a business owner. The importance of communication in business goes beyond just verbal. It starts with listening to get the right type of communication in place.
Running a business is hard enough. Lack of communication in your business can cost your business 100’s of thousands of dollars every year. From large Fortune 500’s to the small boutique marketing agency communication is important to the growth and success of your business.
Why Effective Communication Should Be Part of Your Business
As you can see, it is essential to communicate in business and communication should be part of your company culture. Effective communication can help your business grow to new levels you did not even think possible. Effective communication should be part of your planning, executing, and reviewing process. Here are 8 reasons why communication is so important in your business.
Business is built on relationships. This is why networking and the Chamber of Commerce are still a thing. Communication skills are vital to building and fostering new relationships. Have you ever had a fight with your spouse because you failed to communicate an event you had planned? Communication is important to create new relationships and foster existing relationships.
In the example in the introduction, clarification could have kept the client happy and the revenue in my pocket. If I would have clarified that I was going to augment blogging with local SEO. We would have been fine. In fact, I probably could have increased my retainer amount. Clarification will help keep everyone on the same page versus jumping all over the book.
Increase Speed & Execution
Have you ever been on a team that just got things done? If you have not been part of a team like this I am sorry. If you have been part of a great team you know that how effective communication can help you execute with speed. You are not spending countless hours in the meeting room, you are just executing and growing the business.
Build Your Team
A great manager or leader is one that is transparent. They are not looking over their shoulder at the new up and coming employee that is “out for their job”. A great leader is going to communicate important information and be completely transparent about the business. When an employee or client knows the direction and understands the vision, they will feel more secure about their role and direction. Building great teams start with effective communication.
Marketing starts with communication. Think about it, as marketers we are always looking for ways to more effectively get our message in front of customers. We know the value of a great copy and messaging to the right persona at the right time.
However, this is also important internally. Without effective internal communication, our company will crumble and fall apart. It is hard to survive without knowing the direction and vision of the company.
Foster New Ideas
Did you know that Kodak was the pioneer in digital photography, but leadership did not like the fact that digital would use no film.
Most companies have so much red tape that ideas are never brought to the table and growth is stalled. Establishing communication in your business will allow new ideas to rise to the top and let your business innovate as needed.
Don’t become Kodak because you fail to properly communicate new ideas.
Create Open Environment
An open environment does not mean you have bean bag chairs, scooters, and cereal bars in the office. This is cool, but an open environment is a culture that is built on communication. Ideas flow up and down the chain of command in order to do the right thing for the business. This is a company culture that is transparent and not afraid to share ideas. It creates a thriving business.
Okay, this last point should be pretty clear. In order to retain your customers, you need to communicate. If you do not effectively communicate with your customers, you will be looking for new ones. It is very hard to grow a business when you are always looking to replace the customers you already have. Grow your business through retention, not acquisition.
Different Types of Communication
The importance of communication in business is pretty obvious, right? There are multiple types of communication that many of us forget about. Let’s take a further look at a couple different types of communication in the workplace.
I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen. ~Ernest Hemingway
I am a big fan of listening. I typically find that the person that speaks the most is the person that provides the least amount of value. In order to really understand a problem, you need to listen and gather all the facts before responding. This is especially important when working and dealing with clients.
Written communication is popular in the business world. Ask yourself how many emails you get every day. Probably more than 50. Written communication can be quick, like a text message or long like this blog post. The problem with written communication is a discussion can take forever. Have you ever tried to schedule a meeting via text with more than one person?
Verbal communication is a simple phone call to an in-person meeting. Verbal communication is the best way to share and analyze a large amount of information quickly. This type of communication can also take the most time to come to a conclusion because people like to hear themselves speak. You have been in the never-ending meeting, right?
Nonverbal communication is something more people need to pay attention to. In a sales presentation, your potential client can guide you down the sales path through their nonverbal communication. If your client or potential sale are sitting back with their arms crossed, you might need to change the subject.
Nonverbal communication includes the following:
- Body language
- Eye contact
- Facial expressions
As you continue to enhance your communication skills, keep these types of communication in mind. Using the right communication types can help create the approach to solve any problem.
How To Enhance Your Communication Skills
If you are like me, you are probably not the best communicator. Maybe you are a good writer, but a very poor verbal communicator. Maybe you are a really good listener, but you have a hard time putting your thoughts on paper. Well, let’s look at a couple ways you can enhance your communication skills.
I have to remind my kids, and myself to always make eye contact with the person you are speaking with. When you make eye contact the other party knows you are engaged in the conversation and indicates trustworthiness and confidence.
Using hand gestures and movements can help you guide your communication. We like communicating with people that use gestures because it helps us understand the information faster. Just make sure you are not the over gesture guy that is knocking things over and breaking valuable items.
Body language is everything from a firm handshake to smiling when you meet someone. For example, if you see someone chewing their lip, you know they are not confident. When someone is nodding their head you know they are on the same page as you. Your body language is a huge part of how you are seen in conversation.
I know we have covered this. But listening is the most important form of communication. If you are not listening it is rude and can turn conversation off in a blink of an eye. Make sure to listen before you speak.
The importance of communication in business is more important than you might think. My last corporate job my boss was very poor at communicating expectation. I would try to figure out what was needed, but every project was different. The lack of communication between both parties eventually leads to my firing and the start of my marketing agency.
Your business is going to encounter many problems along the way. Continue to work on your communication and you will grow your relationships, business, and become more productive. Communication is essential in the business world from the fortune 500 to the boutique marketing agency.