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Steve Ziemke Reveals Why Client Communication Matters — and How To Improve It

Steve Ziemke Reveals Why Client Communication Matters — and How To Improve It
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As the EVP of sales for Gulf Coast Western, Steve Ziemke spends a lot of time on the phone. He speaks to clients, potential investors and employees all day, every day. With decades of experience in oil and gas sales under his belt, it’s no wonder he’s a big proponent of effective communication. “I think for me, my success is communication,” he says. 

Communication is more than a corporate buzzword for Ziemke, who believes in constant personal improvement. In an age of high inflation and declining customer trust, Ziemke believes it’s time for business leaders to return to basics and rethink client communications. He explains the importance of communication and shares his techniques for improving communication skills. 

The Power of Communication in Business

As a sales professional, Steve Ziemke knows the power of effective communication — and the risks of getting it wrong. A considerable 86% of employees and executives say poor communication is the root cause of workplace failures. While internal communication certainly matters, external communications have a significant impact on the customer experience. According to a report by, 12% of people report losing customers to competitors because of communication issues. 

Effective communication skills allow professionals to sidestep the headaches of misunderstandings and forge stronger relationships. Ziemke believes that capable communicators empower the people around them, which leads to better business outcomes. 

When professionals communicate productively with their clients, it fosters stronger relationships and trust. Regular contact with clients is also the key to understanding their needs, gathering feedback, and improving business practices. These happy clients have no problem referring an enterprise to their friends — something Steve Ziemke knows firsthand. “I’d say half my business is referrals,” he says. 

Steve Ziemke’s Tips for Improving Communication Skills

Ziemke spent years honing his communication skills. He shares his tactics for better business communication and offers actionable tips for aspiring communicators. 

Practice Communicating

Like any skill, communication requires practice. “I think a lot of the challenge is to practice, is to be able to practice presenting your product, practice handling rebuttals and objections, and focus on helping the client,” Ziemke says.  He also emphasizes, “We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason; you have to listen to your clients, to hear what they say and how they say it.” 

While some professionals practice in the mirror or even in their heads during their morning commute, Ziemke believes there’s nothing like the real thing. “You can practice all you want, but if it’s not perfect practice, then you’re defeating the purpose, and you’re not really maximizing what you could do,” he adds. “Perfect practice is key.” 

Take the practice out of your head and into the workplace, confidently communicating with your peers, employees, and bosses, Ziemke says. If you mess up, that’s just part of the learning process. Review how effectively you communicated at the end of each day, making note of areas for improvement.

Boost Your Knowledge and Confidence

Careful word choice, diction, and tone matter, but Steve Ziemke believes confidence is the ultimate secret to effective communication. Instead of simply acting the part, Ziemke encourages professionals to build confidence on a foundation of experience and knowledge. “One of the most important things I’ve learned is showing the confidence, being excited about your product, and showing the confidence that says to the other person, ‘Gosh, this guy’s serious. He must have happy clients,’” Ziemke says. “However, the primary piece is you have to believe in your product.”

Always Follow Up

Steve Ziemke works in sales, so it’s no surprise that he spends most of his workday communicating with clients. After serving as a sales executive for many years, he’s discovered the importance of following up. Many salespeople move on after the initial sale, but Ziemke schedules follow-ups into his daily schedule, reaching out to a different client every afternoon. “The important thing to me is to make them feel comfortable, to keep them informed on the project,” he explains. Regular follow-ups allow clients to ask questions, but they also boost trust and increase the chances of referrals.

Expand Your Horizons With Travel

Steve Ziemke believes that regular travel made him more culturally sensitive and open to the ideas and experiences of others. “I’ve been to 28 countries,” he says. “One of the biggest lessons is that when you get out to these different countries, and you experience that people really try to know English and communicate with you, whether it’s Vietnam or South Africa, everybody tries to communicate. People are just friendly. They seem genuine.” 

Ziemke encourages business leaders to visit other countries whenever possible. Since most communication happens nonverbally, visiting a country where you don’t speak the language is the ultimate test of your communication skills. In the end, Ziemke believes connecting with people from different cultures and communities is vital to both personal and professional growth.

Communication: The Keystone of Client Success

Communication is one of the most valuable skills for any professional, but it’s especially important for C-suite professionals like Steve Ziemke. Instead of allowing himself to get comfortable or stagnate in his career, Ziemke constantly hones his communication skills. Ziemke believes solid communication bridges differences, increases empathy, and leads to tremendous personal growth in a world starved for understanding.

Published by: Nelly Chavez


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