The truth is that the sales conversation is one of the largest variables of success. The conversation is the only vehicle you have to create value for your prospective client. It's also the only way you create a preference to buy from you instead of from one of your many competitors. Because these things are true, you would expect sales organizations to focus on the sales conversation in training, development, and coaching.
Instead, most sales organizations focus on conversations that waste the client's time and cause them to disengage. These types of conversations are remnants of a legacy approach to sales. A salesperson’s first meeting with a prospective client is an audition, a test. If they fail, they cannot secure a second meeting. Having already disqualified the salesperson and their company, a kindhearted contact asks the salesperson to call the following week to schedule another meeting, then ghosts them. If the salesperson makes it past the first meeting, it is because they were able to prove they are One-Up, meaning they have knowledge and experience that their contacts are missing.
How to Master Conversational Selling
If you believe the only vehicle for creating value is a sales conversation, the way you improve sales skills is by mastering conversational selling. To do this, you must focus on the organic conversations that meet the needs of the contacts you are engaging with in that specific conversation. The outcome of conversational selling is measured in value creation. The more valuable the conversation is to the client, the more you will create a preference to buy from you. Here are three specific strategies to help you master conversational selling.
Strategy 1: Remove No-Value Conversations
You need a new conversation starter in sales. One of the best ways to master conversational selling is to remove anything and everything that doesn’t create value for your prospective clients.
By removing the legacy approach to a first meeting, you don't waste time sharing facts about your company, your clients, or your products and services. This information can be found with a quick web search. If your client was sincerely interested in knowing about your company and your C-suite, they'd look at your website.
The problem with the legacy approach as it pertains to conversational selling is that your client has information parity—they already know what you are going to tell them. By meeting with you, the client is trading their time for the information you can provide. If what you tell them can be easily found online, it’s not worth it for clients to make that trade.
There is a growing trend of buyers suggesting they want to avoid salespeople. By removing any conversation your contacts don’t find valuable, you will differentiate yourself and your sales approach.
Strategy 2: Recognizing Client Needs
There is an art of sales. Part of it comes from being conversational enough to recognize what your contacts need from a meeting with you.
Imagine you are sitting across from your contacts, engaged in a conversation. As they speak to you and each other, you realize they don't understand why they cannot produce the outcomes they need to meet their goals. They don’t recognize the root causes behind their failure, so you ask questions and share the insights that help them understand.
In another meeting, your contacts are aware of the reasons they cannot generate the outcomes they need. However, as they continue to talk, it's clear they don't know how best to improve their results. These contacts need to explore their options. Because you are a master of conversational selling, you guide them through a conversation where you work together to understand what's possible, what might work, and what will not work.
Let's settle on a general rule for conversational selling: Never engage in a conversation that doesn't create value for your contacts. Always have the conversation the client needs, even if they would rather not.
Strategy 3: Lead the Client
It's increasingly important that you lead the client, facilitating their buyer's journey so it ends with their being able to decide and improve their results without suffering buyer's remorse.
The reason you need to be One-Up is that your contacts rarely know what they need to learn or understand to make the best decision. Typically, your prospective client is not responsible for making this decision often, so they lack the experience to make it without help. By mastering conversational selling, you help your contacts understand the process and how to produce the results that caused them to engage in a sales conversation.
That your contacts are engaged in a conversation with you is proof they need help pursuing their goals. The salesperson who doesn't lead their client presents an opportunity for a competitor to step in and create value in the sales conversation, allowing them to lead it instead.
On Conversational Selling
You find sales success when the client believes you created the greatest value in the sales conversation. You lose deals when your contacts didn't get what they needed from it. The salesperson who believes they win because of their conversation must also acknowledge they lost because someone else provided a better experience for their contacts.
The best salespeople have mastered conversational selling and have greater sales performance. The sales organizations that dominate are the ones who work on creating value in the sales conversation. One important way to do this is through role playing, which gives salespeople an opportunity to work on how to have a sales conversation that best serves their contacts.
The single most important area for improving sales effectiveness is having better sales conversations. The conversation is a variable that can be become a strategic advantage for those who master conversational selling.