by Steve Adubato, PhD

Last weekend, along with financial guru Suze Orman, “As Seen on TV” creator AJ Khubani and other speakers, I presented at The Star-Ledger / TD Bank Road to Personal Wealth financial conference at Caldwell College.

It was an opportunity to communicate with a large audience on a subject to which every participant could directly relate. The question we explored was what exactly is a successful entrepreneur and what is the connection to being a great communicator? The link is undeniable. It is virtually impossible to be successful in the marketplace, regardless of the arena in which you compete, if you don’t possess superior communication tools and skills.

Here is a quick summary of the communication characteristics of a great entrepreneur:

Follows up and follows through on his commitments. Great entrepreneurs keep their word on when they are going to do something. They say what they mean, and mean what they say. If they tell you they are going to get back to you by Friday at 3 p.m., they do it then or before. After a meeting or presentation they communicate by sending a quick e-mail saying thanks or outlining a list of “next steps”.

Responsive and accessible. We are talking about calling people back on the same day someone calls you. Same thing with e-mail. Great entrepreneurs give key stakeholders and clients their cell phone number and in certain cases, their home number. They are accessible and respond “after business hours”, including weekends, early mornings, and late evenings. These communication habits will help you stand out from the competition.

Is persistent without being a pest. There is a fine line here. Great entrepreneurs remind prospects that there is a proposal on the table and ask; “Is there any additional information you need?” What they DON’T do, is call you every day and ask; “Have you made a decision yet on my proposal?”

Understand the needs of the customer. Great entrepreneurs ask probing, open ended questions that help them figure out what their clients need and want. They understand “it’s all about them” as opposed to thinking “it’s all about me.” Great entrepreneurs don’t make cookie cutter presentations, but rather customize their sales communication to exactly what the prospect is looking for.

Proactively offers to help. In this case, you should be reaching out before you are asked for your help. E-mail or call a long-time customer or client and say, “Hey, Bob. I heard about some of the challenges you are facing regarding XYZ. I’d like to be helpful…” This entrepreneurial approach clearly communicates that you care and that you want to help. Again, your competition isn’t likely to do the same thing, which gives you the edge.

Role with rejection. Being told “no” is part of the game. How you deal with it often determines your success as an entrepreneur. Of course, the rejection isn’t fun and sometimes it hurts a lot. But you can’t communicate how disappointed you are, rather, you need to say; “Jane, I understand why the timing is off for us to do business together right now, but I look forward to the possibility of working together in the future…If I can help in the meantime, let me know.” Accepting rejection with dignity has value.

Communicates passion and enthusiasm. Any great entrepreneur has to be pumped up, not just about what they are selling or pitching, but more importantly, their desire to be helpful to others. Positive energy and a great attitude go a long way in succeeding as an entrepreneur. Without it, you will be severely challenged.