Business communication can make or break a negotiation or partnership. A small grammatical mistake or the wrong tone of voice can be misinterpreted and cost your business a client or potential profit. But no worries, today we got an expert in business communication – Eric Mitchell Porat – who will explain why it is so important and look at some of the most common mistakes.
Eric Mitchell Porat is an online entrepreneur. Since the early 2000’s, Eric has started creating websites and scaling this business to the point where he now owns more than 20 websites in different niches, as well as several successful companies.
“In my experience, correct business communication is crucial, especially in the times where deals can be negotiated without any verbal communication. When you don’t see your client’s or partner’s face, his gestures or even his voice, correct usage of words is all we have.”
Eric Porat’s experience in business communication is proven by his profiles on several online platforms. Eric’s Flippa profile states that he bought and sold 49 websites for a total value of $659,000 over the last 9 years.
Upwork is also a platform that proves Eric Porat’s business and communication skills, with more than $240,000 spent on freelancers and a rating of 4,5 out of 5.0.
Now that we found out more about our guest, let’s have a look at some of the most common mistakes that can damage your business’ image and profits.
An obvious one, but there are so many businesses that still do this. We’re all human and it’s totally fine if there’s a typo in an e-mail every now and then, but when you notice that the same person sends you texts with grammatical errors it just makes you doubt their competence.
There are plenty of tools that make spotting and correcting spelling mistakes easy, for example Grammarly. Microsoft Word and Google Docs highlight grammatical errors by default, so not taking your time to double-check a business message just seems lazy.
Inadequate tone of voice
This is a mistake I see many small businesses and freelancers make. Tone of voice is not about what you say, but rather HOW you say it. Think about the audience that will read your text, will they understand the message? Is it too technical? Is it too long?
Here is an example from Eric Porat, this is a fragment from a freelancer’s proposal on website optimization:
“Hey man, I will help you optimize your WP website quickly. What version of PHP do you use? The best PHP version to use now is 7.4.8, it can increase your FCP and OL by up to 50%.”
What is wrong with this proposal?
- “Hey man” – always address your clients by name unless you’ve already established a friendlier relationship. The best way to go about that is follow your client’s pattern. If your client addresses you by “Hey [Name]”, do so too.
- “WP, PHP, FCP, OL” – abbreviations and technical slang. If you are not sure whether your client is well-versed in the technicalities, avoid abbreviations and slang. Make your communication as easy to understand as possible.
- Question – this is a proposal, and almost the first thing it does is asking for information. This freelancer didn’t prove his value and hasn’t even introduced himself before asking for additional information. Why would Eric check the PHP version if he’s not even sure that he’s going to hire you yet?
Here is some advice from Eric Mitchell Porat:
“As a good rule of thumb, always try to replicate your client’s tone of voice. Don’t go too far with slang like “man”, “mate”, “bro”, unless your client does it first. Always think from the receiver’s perspective and ask yourself these three main questions: 1. Will he/she understand me? 2. Will he/she think I’m a professional? 3. Are the next steps clear?“
Structure and Length
Depending on the type of communication channel you’re using, you will have to structure and edit your message accordingly. If this is the first time you are getting in touch with a client or partner, the general advice is to stick to the basic rules. (e.g. have a salutation and signature in an email).
Think about the reason and the point of your message to determine a reasonable length. It’s always good to keep it as short as possible in written communication and discuss the details over a phone call.
Establishing Personal Relationships
“If you want to successfully conduct business with a partner or a client long-term, establish a personal relationship early on. You don’t have to become best friends, but we’re all humans and a little small talk is definitely helpful. The most productive and long-lasting partnerships I have are with people that I have a personal relationship with.
My advice is to start off formal to show your professionalism and expertise, and the more you get to know your business partner, the more personal and informal you can get. Even if your client or partner is only focused on business, there’s nothing wrong with you asking questions like “how was your weekend?”, “how are you doing?” and so on.
Find out more about your client as a person, what are his hobbies, where does he leave and even his spouse’s name. Don’t forget to share some personal information about yourself too, this will strengthen your business relationship and make your communication more interesting for both sides”
Know who you talk to
It’s crucial to adapt your communication depending on who you’re speaking to, both personally and business-wise. Financial and Government institutions tend to be more formal and prefer efficient communication. Creative companies, on the other hand, can be more relaxed and informal.
Before writing that email or getting on a call with someone, find out what is that person’s position in the company, try to dig out any previous communication from your or your colleagues’ inboxes, find them on Linkedin or Facebook and try to understand what communication strategy would be the best.
Don’t be afraid to ask as much details as you need before jumping on a call or directly communicating with a new person from a business. Ask your contact what’s that person’s position, should you be ready for a phone or a video call, and what’s the best way to reach them.
Here is some last bit of advice from our guest, Eric Porat.
“Just like personal communication we have everyday with our friends and family, business communication is something you get used to. After years of doing business and talking (verbally or in writing) to a dozen people daily, business communication comes naturally. It’s a good idea to read more articles like this, but like every skill, practice is the key to success.
As a final piece of advice I will share something a mentor told me when I was just starting out. Have a notepad where you write important information about your business partners/clients. Write down every bit of business or personal information they tell you, and use it in your future communication. Your clients will love it when you’ll remember their car model a month after you’ve talked about it.”