Business owners often spend significant percentages of their operating budgets on marketing, consulting and other revenue-building projects. However, developing effective communication skills among team members can result in significant return on investment through both productivity gains and increased sales. Increasing the efficiency and impact of both internal and external communication can improve team morale while elevating a firm’s standing in the eyes of its customers.
For business communication to offer real value, it must leverage a cycle of messaging and feedback. Many professionals focus most of their attention on being heard, through loud advertisements or assertive internal memos. Professionals who seek first to understand by listening to feedback often gain the trust and the partnership of their intended audience. By responding to specific suggestions and cues, speakers who spend more time listening can tailor their messages for maximum effectiveness.
Although many business communicators focus on the craft of writing or speaking, organizations define effectiveness through bottom line results. For example, an advertising campaign may win significant creative awards for technical achievement while failing to win a single new customer. Likewise, an assertive policy memo from a manager may only result in office graffiti instead of the desired outcome the communication requests. Publishing a message isn’t enough to deem it truly effective. Instead, it must make a specific impact on an organization.
Businesses consist of people working in conjunction to produce a product or offer a service. They also engage in interaction with customers, partners and other external organizations. Communication thus becomes vital to running an effective business, and indeed some employees, particularly managers, do their job solely by acting as good communicators. The benefits of employees, managers and owners communicating effectively translate into huge rewards for the business itself.
Communication with potential customers means more than just explaining the benefits of the product or service. It means listening to the customers express their needs and the problems they wish to solve with your product. It also means gauging their satisfaction with the product, and determining any needs they might have for which your business can provide solutions.
A culture of effective communication allows companies to focus on the things that matter, instead of getting bogged down in arguments. Tight feedback cycles enable teams to take more decisive action. Meanwhile, clear communication with customers sets the right kind of expectation, leading to fewer service disputes after the sale. As a result, companies with effective business communication often spend less money on recruiting, marketing and public relations.
Adding value to a business through effective communication also requires becoming more efficient at expressing ideas. Many companies suffer from analysis paralysis, a condition marked by overly lengthy feedback cycles in which stakeholders take time to express their opinions without committing to specific actions. Effective leaders understand when to close a feedback loop and take a specific next step, guided by the potential impact on a company’s bottom line. In some situations, effective communication requires expressing that a detractor’s feedback has been heard, even though a group ultimately chose not to integrate that feedback into their decision.
We no longer live in a business world bound by a single language or culture. Components parts are made overseas, then shipped here for assembly, or U.S. products are shipped to other countries for sale. Communication is to convey important details to overseas partners, and to understand the needs of producers and consumers in other countries. Good communication lets us grasp cultural nuances vital to properly marketing and selling a product, and helps us express concerns and offer solutions in ways that overseas partners understand, thereby reducing confusion and forging closer bonds.
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