I don’t know how to turn a chat into a sales conversation

Is this happening in your business?

You love getting to know people you meet and speak with and you understand the value of building rapport, but you find yourself putting a lot of time and energy into having “nice” conversations which don’t lead to successful outcomes.

Are you at risk of:

  • Your sales pipeline being weak?
  • Approaching the end of the quarter and missing targets?
  • Pushing last-minute sales through in an act of desperation and sounding like a “grabby” salesperson?

Here is what you need to do:​

1. Clarify and set expectations at the start of the conversation. ​

Ask your prospect what they would like to get from the conversation over the next {add length of time} and how they would define a successful initial meeting. You want to keep some sense of direction to the conversation to avoid going off on a tangent and wasting valuable time.

Building rapport is so important, but don’t let this dominate the sales conversation. You need to establish early on what’s in it for the prospect and how you intend to answer their pain points.

You should also be going into the conversation with a clear idea of what you are hoping to gain. Know your product and know how it will benefit the client. To help you with this, you should plan ahead of the pitch and prepare the suitable information and resources that will convince the prospect to invest in you.

2. Break down the barriers and make them feel comfortable early by giving them an “out”.

Transparent communication is key to giving the prospect a space to be open and honest with you. Once you have established a level of trust between you, they will feel more able to let you know if something’s not right for them. Taking time to learn their pain points and barriers will allow you to have a much more effective sales conversation that addresses these concerns and shows the prospect how you can look to solve them.

For example, you could ask: “From our conversation today, we may find an opportunity to work together, or we may not. Either way it’s great to be able to understand and learn more about you”. Based on their answer, you can then navigate the conversation to a suitable outcome, even if this means winding the conversation down. Chasing a dead-end lead will only waste valuable time for both parties.

3. Don’t be afraid of Feedback

In sales, feedback will be your best friend. Make sure you are following up on those interactions and getting an idea of how the prospect found the conversation. Every interaction is an opportunity to learn by experience. Whether the outcome is what you hoped it would be or not, you should be looking to leverage them to refine your sales approach and improve any future customer experiences.

Listening and applying customer responses to your sales experience will not only help you determine the areas of your approach that could use some improvement, but it should also make the customer feel valued. Don’t shy away from constructive criticism, embrace it as a resource to better understand answer the needs of your target market.

Knowing what you are doing right is just as helpful as knowing what you are doing wrong. Use that positive feedback as a confidence boost going into future sales, focusing on the areas that customers responded well to. Countless studies have proved the close connection between customer satisfaction and business performance, so it’s a no brainer that you should be wanting to gauge how satisfied the customer is with your service.

4. Maintain a reputable brand image

Even if nothing comes from the conversation in terms of a sale, you want the prospect to walk away feeling like they really like you and would happily recommend you to others. Customers may come and go, but brand image stays with someone for life. Give them something good to talk about.

Brand equity is the commercial value accredited from the consumer perception of your brand. In other words, it’s the social value of your brand. If you have a reputable brand name, built from positive customer experiences, you will be far more likely to generate revenue from brand recognition. So, ensuring the customer walks away from a positive experience is crucial.

What do you have that sets you apart from the competition? Finding your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) will distinguish your product or service from those that you are in competition with. And in sales, a great place to start is with positive customer interaction. You want to be refining a human-centered approach that prioritises the customer’s needs and represents your company’s values and vision. As a salesperson, you are a walking talking advert for your company.

5. Treat time as a valuable resource

The saying ‘time is money’ has never been more appropriately used than within sales. Time is your greatest resource, so protect it. To ensure you get the most out of the time you have with your prospect, you want to make sure that you are covering all bases. Efficiency is key, but you want to be careful not to rush the customer into making a rash decision that untimely doesn’t benefit them. Piling on pressure could also make them panic, which may deter them away altogether.

So, keep your eye on the clock but don’t rush. Move through the conversation in a clear concise way, ensuring to check in with the prospect at regular intervals to make sure they are still on board and to answer any questions. A recent study found that only 28% of sales reps have a dedicated time management system (salesflare.com).

Having an effective process to follow will keep your approach consistent and your successes frequent. Organization is also key to optimising your time with a prospect. Be prepared with all the necessary facts and figures to answer any questions they may have.

This interaction is just as much about them as it is about you. You don’t want to bombard anyone with information that will either overwhelm or confuse them. Remember, both parties are looking to gain something from the conversation, and both your time is valuable, so don’t be afraid to be open about that and show them you value their time as well as your own.

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