Updated: May 11, 2021
Most people's sales conversations could be better. Not a little better, significantly better. I see too many sellers fall into the same traps:
You talk too much, leaving the buyer with the impression that you don't understand their business, their industry, or their needs.
You grill the buyer with questions, making them feel like they are a part of an interrogation.
You talk too little, letting the buyer control the conversation.
You are over eager, and the buyer can smell your desperation a mile away.
You talk about your products and services as if they are commodities, leading the buyer to buy based on price.
You are unprepared, and the buyer wonders why they are wasting their time with you.
You are uncomfortable talking about money, and the second a price objection comes up your cave and start discounting.
The fact is there are endless ways to goof up a sales conversation, and most sellers make major mistakes every time they talk with a prospect.
Follow the 7 keys below to leading masterful sales conversations.
1. Build rapport
Before you ask questions to get the buyer to open up or talk about how you can help, you have to build rapport. All else being equal, people buy from people they like. Be likable and focus on relationship building, and you'll find your sales conversations will go much more smoothly.
2. Uncover aspirations and afflictions
If you've ever read any piece of sales advice, you know you need to ask questions to uncover the prospect's pain. That's a given. What most advice doesn't include is how to harness the power of aspirations. Your job is not only to uncover the prospect's needs and pains, but it's to also uncover their aspirations and goals. Get your prospect to open up and share their hopes, dreams, and desires and then show how you can help them achieve their goals.
3. Make the impact clear
If you don't make the business case, you won't make the sale. You can do everything else right, but if the prospect doesn't see the value of your solution (and you've got to be very clear with what that value is), they will not buy it.
4. Paint a picture of the new reality
This goes hand in hand with points 2 and 3. Once you know the prospect's needs and goals and the tangible impact of alleviating these pains or attaining their goals, you must paint a picture of what their new world will look like. How will it be better? In your sales conversations, help them visualize the other side and build excitement around it.
5. Balance advocacy and inquiry
Sales conversations require give and take. You have to get the prospect talking so you can fully understand their situation. You also need to take what the prospect says and communicate recommendations based on your expertise to help them see how you can help. In every sales conversation (yes, this includes capabilities presentations and demos) you have to balance how much you talk and how much you listen.
6. Build on the foundation of trust
Trust is the foundation of sales success. A buyer will not open up and share their needs if they don't trust you. A buyer will not believe in your solution and that you can do what you say you can do if they don't trust you. A buyer will never see the full value of what you propose if they don't trust you. You will not win the sale if they don't trust you.
7. Plan to succeed
Set the table for success by going into each sales conversation with a plan. Do your homework and know what you want to get out of the conversation. If you go into each conversation well prepared and planning to succeed, you will be much more likely to make the sale.
If you follow these seven keys in your sales conversations, will you still make mistakes? Absolutely. Will you win every sale? Absolutely not. After all, we're only human and no one is perfect.
But they will help you avoid the common mistakes many sellers make and help you lead more successful and productive sales conversations.