How We Say What We Say

bill mccormick Jul 21, 2022
How We Say What We Say
Words matter, and the right words matter most of all. In the end they're all that remains of us.
John Birmingham


It’s not only what you say but how you say it…. The ‘how’ we speak of here is the medium you choose to relay the message you’re sending.

Last week we looked at the different types of messages you send as a sales professional and the audience they are intended for.

This week I want to focus on another crucial element of the Communication Cycle- the medium.

The medium refers to the means by which you send or transmit your message.

Remember, the Communication Cycle is not complete until the intended audience (the receiver) receives your message and provides feedback.  It’s very important that we communicate in a way and through a medium that our client/prospect will see our message.


Golden Rule vs Platinum Rule

The Golden Rule is to treat others the way you want to be treated.  Absent of a relationship with someone where you can find out what their preferences are, this is a great place to start. However, we can’t remain here!

Here’s an example- I really enjoy a good peach.  So, when my wife asks me to get fruit at the market, if I were to go with the Golden Rule and treat her how I want to be treated, I’d buy her peaches.  My wife strongly dislikes peaches.  She won’t eat them.  

Now, if my wife and I just met, when she said pick up fruit, I’d ask clarifying questions and find out what type of fruit she likes.  But for me, after being with her for 20 years, brought home peaches, that would be insensitive and a hollow gesture.  

The Platinum Rule is the standard we want to use with our client and prospect communications.

The Platinum Rules says that you treat others the way that THEY want to be treated.

How do you know? By asking, by making a connection and having a conversation.

Over the last 20 years I’ve discovered my wife’s likes and dislikes through connection, conversation and relationship. You can do the same thing with your clients and prospects.


The Mediums

So let’s turn our attention back to the medium we’re communicating with our clients and prospects.

The major mediums are:

  • Written text- this includes standard mail, email, text messaging,  and social media direct messaging.
  • In-person speaking
  • Telephone 
  • Video Conference
  • Video messaging 

When you first start out communicating with someone like a networking partner or a prospect, you typically engage with them in your preferred medium of communication.  For me it’s either email or a direct message on LinkedIn.  

For prospects, I’ll actually try email, LinkedIn direct message (if we’re connected) and phone.

Once I connect with them and we begin to communicate, I find out what their preferred medium of communication is.  

I used to have a client that was very old school in his thinking.  While he used email, he didn’t use it well. Also, the company he worked for archived and deleted his entire inbox every 30 days.  I discovered this after a few missed emails and miscommunications.  


Relationship is the Communication Equalizer

This is a big reason why it’s important for us to establish substantive relationships with our clients and prospects.  We’re in a world where it’s easier than ever to connect with someone, but harder than ever to build true connection.  This leads to ample opportunities for miscommunication to happen.

There may be times when using another medium to communicate with your clients and/or prospects is necessary.  

As I’ve written in past newsletters, certain mediums of communication stand a great chance for miscommunication.  Text message, direct message, and email, for example, can lead to misunderstandings because when you communicate via these mediums the receiver reads them with their intentions in mind, not yours.

There have been times when I’ve gone back and forth in an email or text thread over the span of an hour trying to solve a problem when a phone call would have taken 10 minutes.

Ask yourself, “Am I going to be understood in a written message or does there need to be a more synchronous (back and forth) conversation?”  

Another solution here would be a quick video call where each of you can look into each other’s faces while talking.

So, while the message is important and having your audience defined is equally important, knowing the medium to use is imperative!  If you send a message and no one reads it or understands it, then you didn’t communicate!



Take a look at your top five clients and ask if you’re 100% sure you know how they preferred to be communicated with.  Have you moved from the Golden Rule in that relationship to the Platinum Rule- are you treating them the way you want to be treated or how they want to be treated?

Then, examine your pipeline and look at the top 10 people you’re trying to connect, engage and have a conversation with.  Are you approaching them via multiple mediums in order to make a connection, engage them and then have a conversation?


Originally published on Bill McCormick's LinkedIn.


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