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Imagine a 5 year old boy. Let’s call him Tom.

Tom needs looking after as his mum has to work and you have agreed to help out for a couple of hours after school.

Now, Tom is a typical 5 year old boy. He wants to play football.  He wants to go to the park and climb up trees.  He has been at school all day and yet still has enough energy to keep Greater London in power for the month of December.

You, on the other hand, are tired from a hard day of endless phone calls and email bashing.  You would just love to sit down and watch the latest kids DVD together.  After all it looks like rain and you don’t fancy getting wet.

What do you do?  Do you spend the next ten minutes explaining that the wind is picking up and the way that the cumulus nimbus clouds that are forming means that they is a definite probability of heavy precipitation?

Or do you tell him it’s going to rain, tell him you’re putting on the DVD in five minutes and offer him the choice of salted or sweet popcorn?

Whether you have children of your own or not, common sense tells you that when communicating with a 5 year old you need to use simple language and be very clear in your requests.

And this is why I like to compare communicating with potential clients with communicating with children.

If a 5 year old can not grasp the concept of what your business is all about, then there is every chance that your potential client, who knows nothing about you and your business, will not either.

Here are my top tips for treating your clients like children.

1.  Avoid all jargon. There is a big danger that when we live and breathe our businesses, we tend to adopt the language and abbreviations of that business.  This is especially so for technically based businesses and NLP practitioners.

Would you know what cloud-based CRM interface actually is, let alone know how it could benefit your business?  And how on earth does the average person on the street know how to define neurolinguistic programming? Or even life coaching for that matter?

When you’ve been around other like minded professionals – perhaps even studied together – it’s really easy to carry on using the same phrases or words with potential clients. But they haven’t come from that place and all they care about is having their problem fixed.

A quick note on abbreviations – it is just plain rude to assume that your potential clients know what TLA’s are. (*answer at the bottom of the article to find out what it means!!)

2.  Use simple language. Using the best part of a Thesaurus on your website home page can look exceptionally pretentious, at the best of times. At worst, if your reader has to pick up a dictionary to understand what you have written, no relationship is going to be built, is it?

3.  Never patronise. Go too simple with your language and your potential customer may take offence to be treated as someone who is one sandwich short of a picnic.  Coming back to Tom – he would certainly take offence to being talked down to and may reward you with a kick in the shins for be treated like a baby!

4.  Avoid using negative language. Tom is carrying a glass of milk across the room and you say to him “Don’t drop the glass”.  What do you think will happen?  Yes, there is every chance that Tom will drop the glass.  Our brains can’t process negatives so we just leave them out.

Think of commonly used phrases such as “Don’t Delay.  Don’t miss out on this special offer”.  Yes, that’s right.  There is a higher chance that your potential client will delay. Far better to use “Book Now.  Reserve your copy today.”

5.  Be very clear in your requests. You would never take Tom to a busy road and just let him cross by himself as you leave him with a wave of your hand.  You couldn’t afford to take the risk of assuming that he may be street savvy enough to look for cars before crossing.

So, when communicating with your potential customers, whether it is an email, an advert or a page on your website, always be specific with your call to action.

It’s just not good enough to leave your web visitor hanging on the bottom of your page with a bland “If you are interested, give me a call”, expecting them to know a) where to find your phone number and b) be compelled enough to take action there and then.

“Call me on 001 234 5678 before Friday at 12 noon if you would like to get this 20% discount”

“Email [email protected] by the end of today to reserve your place.”

Never assume your potential customer is going to know what to do.

Be specific and clear and your customer will thank you for making it so easy for them.

5.  Reward with lots of praise and sweets. OK, Tom may be motivated by Smarties and your potential clients may not be.  But use the same principles.  Reward your customers with a simple “Thank you” or “I really appreciate your business” is just as valuable to building relations as continuing discount vouchers and referral rewards.

How do you simplify your communications and offers? Do you struggle with using technical jargon or feeling as if you have showcase your knowledge to impress a potential client?

I would love to know your thoughts so leave a comment below.

*P.S.  TLA’s is short for Three Letter Acronyms.  Um, annoying isn’t it?!

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