Gift of the Gab [Chris Mason]

About Chris:

We welcome Chris back again after working with him on a productive project with Anglia Ruskin Student Union - The ARU Innovation Project [Video]. Chris has written for us before in the past  talking about his journey to entrepreneurship: Taking the plunge - Read it here. He is again giving us some nuggets about the 3 principles of communication.

Chris runs an IT company - Jeccl. And in his spare time, he enjoys maintaining his allotment and walking his dog Zorro. 


Being able to explain, sell or negotiate something is a key skill that any entrepreneur needs. It is this skill that shows your clients you mean business and that you are willing to work for a solution to their problem  

When talking to someone - regardless of who they are; your customer, competition, supplier or staff member, never come across as arrogant. You will not get anywhere with them. Be yourself, be genuine and be honest. People buy people and how you communicate with other people will enable you to sell yourself and ultimately your products or services. 

The Explain, Sell, Negotiate principle

EXPLAIN - The ability to explain something in a way your client understands makes them feel safe and secure. It lets them know that you know what you’re talking about. To understand what they want a bit better, you can ask questions. Questions come in two forms: Open ended and Closed ended. Open ended questions allows for a wider and in-depth answer while close ended on the other hand is basically a yes or no question. Using a mix of these can get you a full understanding of what your client is after. Before employing your services, many clients might want to know a little bit more about you. This is where you get to big yourself up and really sell your person to them. Remain cautious of coming across as arrogant, presumptuous or big headed as this will not always end well. Try to explain who you are and what you do in a simple way, remember your client has come to you as you’re the expert so if you start talking technical jargon you’ll loose them if they don’t understand. When explaining anything always remember KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid!

SELL – There are many books on the market that can teach you how to sell effectively. But remember this, everyone has their own style of selling as we are all unique individuals. With time and practice you will work out the best way of selling that works for you. Personally, I don’t like pushy salespeople. They typically sell cars or double glazing. These are also the types that will sell you something you don’t need or want. They cold-call you and generally won't take no for an answer. NOT COOL! In sales(with enough practice), you will eventually find what works for you. I take the opinion that being open, honest and as genuine as possible means I am more likely to succeed with a sale. There is an art to upselling I have figured out, and I will discuss all about that in my next article. If you can provide good value for money to your clients, they are more likely to buy from you or offer repeat business(which is always a good thing). Making sales is a part of everyday life for many of us, even if we don’t realise it. We must sell ourselves and ideas to others in other to get a deal, an extension on an assignment and countless other things. The art of explaining, talking and getting what you want can be classed as selling (to an extent). But remember Rome wasn’t built in a day so when you get knocked down on a sale, don’t loose heart. Get up, dust yourself off and try again. You will get the hang of it...eventually  

NEGOTIATE – This is very imporant. The ablity to negotiate will help you to achieve a mutually beneficial sale and sometimes even with a much greater reward for yourself. Before meeting your client, you need to do your research. A quick search can reveal a lot about your client. Their likes and dislikes, how they do business, who their clients are, etc. This information will help you to become more relatable in your conversations with your client. I am not saying go become a Facebook stalker, but a bit of background research can help. The next step is to brush up on what you do. How do you do it? How much will you charge and what are you willing to do to get the deal. The very thing you want to avoid is forgeting yourself and end up giving them a price so low that you loose money or promise something you can’t do. At the end of the day you’re the expert in your business and you need to remember that. Negotiation is part knowing your stuff and part practise. I once did an interview where I had to negotiate the cost of a catering contract for 12 months. We were not allowed to offer a bigger discount and if we did that, the interview was over. Out of 50 applicants I was the only one to offer a bigger discount, which would usually mean the interview was over. However, I put a clause on the deal that they had to sign up for a minimum of 3 years to get the discount I was offering. That was the businessman in me trying to win the contract. At the end of the day, I got through the interview with flying colours and was the only one ever to negotiate towards a 3-year deal at a bigger discount. They push your buttons and you push theirs, that’s negotiation. With a bit of practise, you’ll soon be negotiating deals you never dreamed you would get.

My advice with all of this is to practice, even if it is just in your mirror. Role playing exercises are also a good way to learn. Find someone who is willing to run through some scenarios with you and put on different personas for each one. This will help you to learn how to think on your feet, remain unstartled and win any negotiation in your favour.

Till next time

Chris Mason,

A Student Entrepreneur.


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