You’re merging, you’re selling, you’re acquiring, you’re retiring, you’re changing your executive leadership: At some point, almost every business has important news to share with clients about major changes.
Communicating big news is a pivotal moment in the customer relationship and it’s essential to do it right.
Here are 12 tips for delivering important news to your clients about your business from my experience as a B2B marketing communications consultant.
How to Tell Clients Important News: 12 Tips for Success
No matter what kind of news you have to share – happy, sad, good, bad, or somewhere in between – there are common principles of effective B2B communication to use as a guide:
- Develop a plan. Outline the steps and tactics of communication, establish the schedule, and assign responsibility for the plan’s execution.
- Create the rationale. If you have a made a decision to change your business in an important way, develop a short, easy-to-remember, “here’s why” statement to help clients and other audiences understand your actions.
- Anticipate clients’ reactions. Change is hard and change in business can create anxiety and concern. Think about customers’ potential reactions, both pro and con, and be ready with responses to questions or objections.
- Boil the message down. Keep your initial announcement short and simple: What’s happening, when, and why. Focus on a few key points that are easy to remember. Provide additional information in subsequent or separate conversations or materials.
- Explain the impact. Clients will want to know what this news means to them and what’s next. Be straightforward about the impact on your business and theirs and how this development will affect your ability to meet their needs.
- Choose the proper tone. Your tone can significantly influence how customers react. If the news is sad, such as the death of a company leader, convey your sorrow about the loss and your determination to avoid disruption to the business. If the news is good, like the acquisition of a competitor or your merger with another firm, express enthusiasm and excitement about the future.
- Create the tools. Whatever you’re announcing, you’ll need talking points for client calls and meetings, a client letter, an email message, a detailed overview of the news, and FAQs to use as follow-ups to your initial contact.
- Tell your most important clients directly and first. Most businesses have a few large clients whose loyalty is critical to their profitability. Tell these clients first and tell them directly, in person or by phone. The contact should come from a high-level executive, ideally the company owner or president.
- Equip your team. Prepare your staff with the information they’ll need to consistently and effectively communicate with customers, vendors, and industry colleagues. Appoint a single internal executive to field questions and be the go-to resource if staff is asked to provide answers they don’t have.
- Exude confidence. Whether your news is good or bad, clients want to be assured that you will continue to be a trusted and dependable supplier going forward. If you come across as steady, confident, and upbeat, clients will feel it.
- Communicate regularly post-event. Once the news is out, maintain a steady flow of communication with clients to answer additional questions, address any misgivings, and build acceptance.
- Engage your prospects. Important prospects already in a sales dialogue with your company should hear the news directly from you as well. Prospects will appreciate your candor and the fact that you value your potential relationship with them enough to keep them in the loop about your business.