The art of conversation may be the most important skill set that a sales professional has at their disposal. Yet, sales training programs spend little time teaching it, so most salespeople default to telling more than listening.
In reality, more sales are made by those who know how to engage prospects in a dialogue that draws out what’s important to them.
Here are five keys to help you have successful sales conversations.
- Know the goal of the conversation.
Most sales that require a conversation don’t close in one conversation. So, the goal of your first conversation may be to make sure they qualify, meaning they have a problem you can solve. Everyone starts as a suspect, but only becomes a prospect when you know you can potentially help them.
Other conversational goals may be to strengthen trust by addressing buyer’s concerns, or to get the buyer’s decision.
- Prepare questions that draw out the buyer’s story.
Questions are the key to success in many conversations (not just sales!). They help you accomplish three things at once.
- First, they help you gain valuable information and insights about your prospect.
- Second, they enable you to bring points to the prospect’s attention that they haven’t yet considered.
- Third, questions demonstrate your expertise in a way that enhances credibility and trust.
- Set expectations at each stage of the process.
Setting expectations is like stating the agenda for a meeting. It shows that you have a plan, engages the buyer in agreement with the plan, and sets the stage for collaboration right from the start. The net effect is the buyer is put at ease, making them willing to be forthcoming with details about their situation.
At the end of each conversation make sure to set expectations for what comes next. This enhances understanding and advances the sales cycle smoothly.
- Ask questions that diagnose the buyer’s problem.
There are two types of questions salespeople need to ask: diagnostic and fact-gathering.
- Diagnostic questions help uncover the exact nature of the problem the buyer wants to solve. Most salespeople only skim the surface of the problem before launching into proposed solutions. When you fully explore how the problem is affecting the buyer, your closing ratios will go up. The deeper you go, the more the buyer feels understood.
- Fact gathering questions are important for constructing the best solution but are best asked after you’ve fully qualified the buyer.
- Always provide options and give a clear call to action.
A clear call to action helps both parties know what needs to happen next.
Too often salespeople don’t spell out next steps because they don’t want to appear “pushy”. We’ve been told to ask for the sale, but asking “Do you want to buy from me?” doesn’t feel right. Instead, ask the prospect “Where do we go from here?” allowing them to spell out next steps.
When you use these 5 keys you’ll be well on your way to improved sales results.
Thinking about investing in sales training? Here is a self-paced option you may enjoy: Sell Like Jesus: Sell Your Products Not Your Soul.