Business Sales Marketing September 23, 2014

Save Your Breath: Why Verbal Education Only Does Half the Job


If you’re in business, chances are you spend a good portion of your day delivering verbal education. You may not know what that means, but it doesn’t mean that you don’t do it. Any time you communicate instructions or information verbally – that is, any time you answer a client’s question, provide them with advice, or explain a product or service – you’re teaching them. This fantastic service is what makes you “you” – but it’s also a huge waste of time. So, what should SMEs really be doing?

But Don’t Quit Talking: It’s Still Your Best Service

Verbal education is a fantastic service because it’s helpful, tailored, and demonstrative proof of expertise. It’s great for building relationships with clients: in one conversation, you and your staff showcase your expert knowledge as well as your friendly, customer-oriented nature. There’s no faster way to effectively convey your value as the helpful expert than an in-person conversation. The problem is that your clients can’t retain the information.

The Faulty Human Memory: Why Your Business Needs To Provide Options

Even though verbal education demonstrates your true value to your prospects, a business needs to capture and record it before it can be shared and leveraged. During a conversation, people are distracted by any number of things: from buzzing cellphones to worrying if one has spinach in his teeth, the world is full of disruptions that detract from the already fickle human memory. Factor in different learning styles, and it becomes clear that instructing clients verbally benefits relationship building more than transferring knowledge. And if all that time you spend conversing isn’t serving its primary purpose – to leave the client with information they can retain and revisit – then it’s not an efficient use of time.

Real World Examples Of Verbal Education Fails

The best example of this is calling a technical support hotline. The IT person would never explain an entire data recovery process to you and then hang up: you’d call back within minutes having forgotten step six or mixed up steps seven and eight.

Instead, the IT staff will walk you through the process step-by-step. The frequency and variety of messages in the modern world make it difficult to retain verbally transferred information in a way that we can use once the conversation has ended. Hence, students in lecture halls take notes. Furniture comes with assembly instructions. The only way to properly inform a client is to provide a variety of options of educational materials.

Use Content: Work With Your Clients’ Memories – Not Against Them

So how can a business supplement its verbal educational service? By supporting it with Authoritative Content. Like a conversation captured and made tangible in the form of articles, audio clips, videos and helpful infographics, Authoritative Content is both educational and engaging; it conveys your business’ brand personality as well as the valuable information you need the client to retain for future use.

We would never suggest that you stop talking: just that you reinforce that conversation with content that prospects and clients can take home to peruse as needed. If you’re truly in business to help your clients (and we know you are) then work with the way their brains function – not against it. 

Grant Goodwin is speaking at our upcoming Vistage Open Day events with Jaynie Smith. 

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