conversation is an engine

A lot can happen in a conversation

Can You Hear The Jingle When Your People Comingle?

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Let your technical staff converse with the world.

Several technical clients and friends I talk with are nervous about their business model. Their ways of getting new business feel not just old-fashioned, but wasteful of time, money and the energy of strong, passionate employees. These clients develop products that depend on interaction with their customers. Their specialized custom manufacturing is not easily duplicated and requires extensive collaboration. The problem is their customers are sometimes (often?) under the impression they purchased something close to an off-the-shelf solution: something that will work right away. Those customers may not realize (or may choose not to realize) they have actually purchased a highly custom product that requires lots of detailed conversation to make it work properly. The other problem is that neither my client nor their customer went deep in talking through the expectations each brought to the purchase.

What if my technical friends approached their business with the notion of starting technical conversations on the front-end: as a way into the sale along with the way through the sale, rather than just as a fumbling, awkward add-on after money has gone between accounts? What if these firms located the people already hard at work inside the company who had a passion for telling the detailed story on the outside of the company? I’m calling these the cominglers: employees who know the details cold and, with a bit of prompting and freedom, could carry on vital, interesting conversations outside the walls of your firm. Conversations that attract new customers even as they build credibility in the industry. This is actually happening all the time as people invest in the variety of social media channels.

It’s a plenty scary thought to many managers and VPs. I can hear it now: “We don’t want our engineers talking with civilians!” But is that really what you want, given your customers’ hunger for detailed engagement before, during and after a sale? Moving past marketing’s old monologing ways involves taking steps toward engagement at all sorts of levels within our organizations. Engagement was never just the salesman’s job, which has become clearer every single day as companies move to Facebook.

As I teach college writing students, I want them to grip their firm’s innerworkings as well as to put their head up in the space where their company moves to see the context their products and services walk among. Ongoing conversations depend on these very people.

Who are the cominglers in your organization?


Photo Credit: Steve Powers-Visual Blues

Written by kirkistan

September 1, 2010 at 9:28 am

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