Who’s Leading Your Sales Conversations? You or Your Prospects?
Has a prospect ever guided the conversation in a direction you didn’t intend it to go? Did you attempt to recover it when it was already too late? Did you find yourself apologizing and/or asking permission to ask a question?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of those questions, you’ve likely forgotten that there are only two options in your sales conversations: You’re leading or the prospect is leading.
A recent article on the E-Myth blog highlights this ‘leading’ problem and provides a few great solutions to apply to your sales team’s system. Below is a brief summary with some commentary…
What happens when the prospect leads? The conversation is left up to whatever is on the prospects mind at the moment, and that may or may not lead to a good outcome. For example, he/or she may begin drifting into a conversation about how good the food was at last week’s dine and dash event. They may proceed to mention how they love that part of the city, and eventually want to move there. While this may be a good and innocent casual conversation, this is not why you scheduled to meet, right? We all have a finite amount of attention.
So, what are the elements that you can build into your sales system to support your salespeople in leading conversations? In other words, how can you effectively equip your salespeople for prospect conversations that have direction, flow, and clarity? Two critical elements are necessary: structure and engagement tools.
“steps of the process and the order in which they should be followed—and also script key elements of the process like, how you want your salespeople to start conversations, how you want them to explain the meeting agenda, how you want them to describe what you do and what it costs, you are actually building authority into the process that many salespeople may not yet have in themselves.”
“principles you create and teach your salespeople about what it means to lead with your prospects, given your values, when there’s no script for the moments that just can’t be scripted.”
Here are four engagement tools that can be applied to most businesses:
- Care, care, care.
“Care about yourself and the results you’re there to produce. Care about your product or service and the value it truly provides people. And care about your prospects and giving them value that is meaningful to them, whether they buy or not.”
- To meet prospects where they are, enter their reality.
“Listen for their ‘symbolic expressions’, the things they say that have more meaning to them than they’re actually expressing and ask questions…”
- Questions drive the inquiry into your prospects’ reality.
“Ask questions that you truly feel curious about. Don’t ask random questions just to fill space; you’ll lose traction. Don’t apologize or ask permission to ask a question—in either words or tone—or you’ll diminish your impact.”
- Learn how to use silence when ‘no words’ is the best question you can ask.
“When you ask a particularly meaningful or challenging question, remain silent for as long as it takes the prospect to answer. Like being crisp, silence draws out what someone is feeling and gives them room to feel it.”
As mentioned near the end of the article, “unless your salespeople are exercising authority with care, the best results you can expect are the prospects who already decided to buy before they met with you.”
We hope you find this information helpful toward building a sales team that strives to truly make a difference and maximize sales results at the same time.