Success in sales requires you to be a good communicator. Most salespeople agree that they need to speak well, but they don’t believe that listening is an even more important skill. In a sales conversation, much of your contact’s communication means more than the words indicate. To fully understand your contact, you need to speak fluent client.
I took an acting class where we did one-on-one exercises, and the teacher was surprised at my ability to focus fully on my partner. My on them. I explained that I had spent the largest part of my life giving my clients my full attention, something that allowed me to hear what wasn’t being said.
Fluent Client in Prospecting
You make a call to your dream client. You ask them for a meeting, and they respond with “We are happy with our current supplier” or “Can you send me an email?” This is not evidence that they love their current partner or want you to send them an email.
Translation: I believe you are a waste of my time. Neither of these two common responses mean what the words indicate when taken at face value. You can improve your ability to book a meeting by trading value for the prospective client’s time and addressing their real concern.
Fluent Client in Commitment Gaining
You believed you were doing well in a first meeting only to have your prospective client refuse your attempt to book a second meeting. Instead, your contact says, “Call me on Tuesday next week to schedule a meeting.” You make a note to remind you to call the client on the following Tuesday.
Translation: You failed your audition, and I am no longer considering you as a potential partner. This is a common outcome when a salesperson fails to create value for their prospect in the sales conversation. It also happens when the salesperson lacks the knowledge and experience the client expects.
Fluent Client in Accessing Stakeholders
You believe you have done a good job positioning your company and your solutions, and you have no doubt you will be able to help the client solve their problem. After you are done speaking, you ask your contact who on their team needs to join the next meeting. Your contact says, “I am going to be the only person making this decision.”
Translation: You are not the salesperson I will introduce to my peers. Gaining access to the other stakeholders requires you to impress your contact by using insights based on your research and reading to prove you will “wow” the stakeholders.
I continue to encourage you to up your sales game by reading and researching and becoming a consultative salesperson. See Elite Sales Strategies: A Guide to Being One-Up, Creating Value, and Becoming Truly Consultative.
Fluent Client and Access to Power
You have been taught to gain access to a senior leader. Your main contact has been nice enough, but when you ask to include a senior leader to join the next meeting, your contact tells you that the senior leader doesn’t join these meetings because they are much too busy and they trust their team to make good decisions.
Translation: You won’t last more than two minutes with the senior leader, who will shake your hand and thank you for saying hello. While it may be difficult to get access to the stakeholders, it’s much more challenging to acquire a senior leader because the bar for getting an introduction is much higher. Again, if you want to sell better, you need to be an expert and an authority.
Fluent Client in the Ask
After three meetings over the same number of weeks, you believe your client is ready to buy from you. You are doing the right thing by asking the client for their business. You confidently make the ask, only to hear them say, "We need a couple weeks to consider this, and we’ll reach out after we have a chance to talk this through.”
Translation: I am not certain that what you are proposing will work for us, and we can’t afford to fail on this initiative. More than ever, your contacts are seeking certainty. When you leave concerns unaddressed or fail to provide the proof your client will succeed, you are not likely to win their business.
Learning to Hear What Isn’t Said
One way you can improve your sales results is by listening for what isn’t being said. To practice this, you need to look past what was said and hear what is being communicated to you indirectly.
The true meaning is more than what you hear. Communication also happens with a glance or a gesture or a person walking out of the room in the middle of the conversation. For instance, when a contact disagrees with a peer, there is communication that provides you with information you may not have had access to otherwise.
How to Speak Fluent Client
Most of the time, we speak sales, but you are often better off speaking client. Your clients and mine all want a conversation that creates value for them as they pursue their goals and objectives. When you speak fluent client, you close the gaps in their knowledge and experience, and help them make informed decisions. This proves to them and their stakeholders that you are the right person to help them succeed.
Imagine you are ill and have a choice of two doctors. The first is an expert in your ailment, while the second is not. It is easy to choose the doctor that is an expert over the novice. The same applies to the sales conversation. While your contact will never say this directly, they will communicate it to you, but you will only understand their message if you speak fluent client.
The greater your ability to create value, the fewer challenges you will encounter in the sales conversation. If you need help with value creation, go here.