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If you listen to salespeople in conversation with their prospective clients, you may notice that some salespeople are better than others. Some sales professionals engage their buyers and decision-makers by creating a better sales conversation. Other sales reps have a difficult time providing their contacts with the B2B sales experience necessary to win their business.

Acumen about the sales conversation is similar to business acumen, as both are intertwined variables that impact sales results. Despite this, very few sales organizations enable the sales conversation in a meaningful way. Worse is that most sales conversations lack anything that might be considered a sales strategy or effective selling.

Sales conversation acumen is a competency or intelligence that allows the salesperson to intuit what conversations their prospective clients need. Without a high skill level in the sales conversation, salespeople struggle to succeed. If you are looking for a way to improve your sales results, you need to enable the sales conversation.

Key Components of a Successful Sales Conversation

Let’s look at some elements of successful conversations through the lens of the modern sales approach.

Establishing Rapport and Trust

The salesperson with the necessary acumen builds rapport and relationships by engaging in a business conversation. By starting with business topics, they position themselves as a business advisor instead of a salesperson.

By contrast, salespeople who try to warm up by spending the first 15 minutes trying to get comfortable lack conversation acumen. Their contacts are likely to believe the sales rep is a time waster. The measure of any conversation is the value it holds for the client.

Go here for help with trust-based relationship selling examples.

Identifying Customer Needs and Pain Points

There are two ways to identify a customer’s needs and pain points. The first relies on a salesperson’s business and conversation acumen, and the second relies on asking the client.

The salesperson with a high level of acumen already knows about their client’s needs and pain points. They can prompt a client to share more about these topics without having to ask about the client’s problems.

The sales rep who lacks conversation acumen will ask their prospective client to help them identify their problem and its implication. Once the client states the problem, the salesperson will rush to demonstrate the value and benefits of their product or service.

The salesperson with acumen is able to more deeply understand the client’s needs, which will help them as the sales conversation proceeds. They will be able to give the client confidence and will be able to look past any objection to resolve the contact’s true underlying concern. This allows them to help customers move forward in the sales process. Salespeople who lack conversation acumen practice a poor discovery approach that causes them to lose deals. They also cannot look past the surface of objections to uncover true concerns.


Active Listening

The importance of being present in conversations is critical. It requires the ability to stay engaged in the sales conversation. This requires the salesperson’s full attention on their prospective or existing client.

Our take on active listening is more than repeating back what the client said. If you are listening, you are hearing what isn’t being said as clearly as what is being said.

One of the best techniques for effective active listening is presence. You must give your attention to your contact and what they are communicating. There may not be a better strategy for rapport building than being an excellent listener and using open-ended questions.

Open-Ended Questions

Selling is a dialogue with sales conversation acumen and a monologue without it. In Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative I provided a set of strategies for discovery. Open-ended questions allow the salesperson to learn what they need to know to advance the conversation.

My favorite example of an effective open-ended question is: “Share with me how you are thinking about this challenge.” Incorporating open-ended questions into the sales conversations allows for deeper discovery. This allows the salesperson to make the right recommendation for their clients.

For more help on why and how to use open-ended questions, go here.

Storytelling Techniques

Most salespeople who lack conversation acumen tell stories about past successes to position their company and their solutions. To the client, it sounds like the salesperson is pitching them way too early. The power of storytelling in sales is that, delivered at the right time, it can help you create a paradigm shift.

The most compelling stories to engage prospects explain the forces that harm their results and those of their clients. When we talk about creating value, we suggest that the salesperson enables the contact to decide.

Without sales conversation, your stories are all “why us,” with no “why change.” This is why sales is broken. The legacy approach is to blame.

How to Avoid the Most Common Sales Conversation Mistakes

The most common sales mistakes stem from a lack of conversation acumen. They include failing to listen, failing to understand customer needs, overloading prospects with information, and poor follow-up and communication. Avoid these mistakes by paying attention and noticing what your potential customer needs.

Sales Conversation Acumen and Long-Term Customer Relationships?

Your relationship with your clients can feel like a friendship, but there is a connection between sales acumen and customer satisfaction and retention. Your conversation doesn’t end with a signed contract; it starts there, if you want lifetime clients.

You can foster trust and loyalty through effective sales conversations. One way to do that is to keep your contact aware of any potential challenges that might harm their results. You can also build long-term customer relationships by always creating new value.

Sales Conversation Acumen

The variable to success in sales is found in the only vehicle for creating value, the sales conversation. Those with sales conversation acumen and a new, modern B2B sales methodology have a high chance of winning deals. They also benefit from high win rates in B2B sales.

People with these skills and capabilities establish a business rapport, build relationships, and create value by using value-creation strategies. They also recognize the ongoing importance of honing their sales conversation acumen by understanding what conversations their clients need.

Leaving this article, assess the value of your sales conversations. When you recognize that something isn’t working, spend time on developing a sales conversation that will win points from your clients. If you need help, go here: Solve for sales.

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Post by Anthony Iannarino on May 5, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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