5 Ways To Have Exceptional Business Conversations
My most recent article, Succeeding In The New World of Sales, struck a chord with many people. Many recognise that sales is going through a transformation and that those working in sales, client acquisition, finance and account management need new skills to succeed. This piece is the first of five articles delving into these skills. First I’ll tackle how to have great conversations.
Great relationships start with great conversations.
The ability to converse effectively with clients and particularly decision makers is one of the core skills of a salesperson, consultant or advisor. However, a recent extensive study of B2B buyers (get the full details in the Huffington Post here), revealed that only 1 in 3 salespeople could effectively converse with senior executives - the decision makers! This statistic is truly shocking.
The Lost Art of Effective Conversations
Is the ability to have an effective conversation a dying art? I hope not, but judging by the above research, I fear it is.
Making clients feel safe and listened to, getting to the heart of their top issues and agreeing on practical steps while removing risk are skills you need to be a great sales person and trusted advisor. (See my previous article of what I mean by a trusted advisor.)
Making clients feel safe and listened to, getting to the heart of their top issues and agreeing practical steps whilst removing risk are skills you need to be a great sales person and trusted advisor.
What Does An Effective Conversation Look Like?
In an effective conversation, you‘re uncovering information about your client, developing their trust and making a motivating case for change all at the same time. You need a flexible framework to make sure you’re driving the conversation in a natural way and world-class listening skills (I’ll be exploring listening more next week).
In conversations with your client you need to:
Uncover what’s unique about them, what‘s happening in their industry and why they need to change.
Educate and challenge them with a new perspective.
Have them understand how you can add value.
Motivate them to act.
Characteristics Of Great Conversations
In one of the best uses of AI I‘ve seen so far, Gong Labs analysed 1 million sales calls to understand what high performers did differently to others. Here‘s a summary of what they found and five ideas for how you can have more effective conversations today:
Talk less and listen more: The most successful salespeople talk only 46% of the time compared to the least successful who speak 72% of the meeting. Listening and not talking is also the route to growing your emotional intelligence (read more about this here).
Have conversations, not meetings: Although the best listen more, their meetings are conversations – there‘s an exchange between the buyer and seller. The conversation goes back and forward in a natural way. A rigid sales process or script is useless. Your client can feel you going through the motions, which is a major turn-off.
Remove the risk of change: The best salespeople use language and a process to reduce feelings of uncertainty. This could be offering things like free trials or using a co-creation process, developing the solution with the client. This way they feel they own the solution rather than feel they are being sold on something.
Talk about business not features: Spend more time on value-related discussions such as your prospect’s challenges, the changing business environment, business benefits, and ROI.
Make time for clear next steps: The best dedicate more time at the end of a meeting for discussing next steps – 13% more time to be exact. Allowing enough time to confirm how to move things forward could be the difference between closing a sale and having a nice conversation.
Developing your ability to have productive conversations is a skill you will carry through your whole career (and life). There is so much more to this topic. In this article, I’ve sought to give you some tips and a place to start. A couple of ideas might stand out to you. I’ll be unpacking this more during my next few articles, so be sure to follow me or connect with me to get those. The next article will focus on listening.
If you can’t wait for my next article, you can get my guide to succeeding in the new world of sales here, where I unpack the 5 essential skills you need to be a trusted advisor to your client.
Click here to get my guide to succeeding in the new world of sales , where I unpack the 5 essential skills you need to be a trusted advisor to your client.
This blog was originally posted on 9th May 2018 here: