It can take as many as 18 calls to connect with a prospective buyer. But for all that effort to matter, you must also know how to start sales conversations that drive the customer to take action and want to learn more about your products.
And that’s why in addition to lead generation, you must be able to address the specific needs of each person you’re talking to through conversation starters if you want them to listen to what you have to say. And for 69% of sales reps, that’s the most challenging part of the job.
The good news is that while starting sales conversations with people you’re not acquainted with can seem like a big challenge, there are actually proven approaches you can take that can eliminate a lot of the guesswork in the process.
Let’s look at the definition of sales conversations, why they’re essential, and the key sales tactics you can implement to become better at starting conversations and closing more deals in the process.
What Are Sales Conversations?
A sales conversation is any communication between a sales rep and a prospective customer. Usually, these types of conversations happen over the phone or in person, although they can also sometimes occur on email, chat, or another medium.
And just as in any conversation, the way it flows can have a massive impact on whether the desired result is achieved. The very best sales reps have an intuitive sense of how to immediately form a connection with the person they’re talking to, breaking down the barriers that separate them and making it much easier for them to lay out their arguments.
But for most sales reps, the success in starting and maintaining sales conversations will depend on preparation. The knowledge and processes they bring into each conversation with a prospective client can give them the confidence and the right tools to move the sales process forward, overcoming objections and helping the prospect see why the product is an ideal fit in their situation.
When you have a good sales conversation process, you don’t have to rely on your sales reps calling hundreds of prospects per day. Instead, they can focus on a few hyper-targeted and well-researched potential buyers with a very high chance of turning into customers.
Importance of Sales Conversations
Sales conversations are an inevitable part of running a business, at least in the vast majority of B2B companies. But how exactly can they help your company?
Well, for one thing, conversations are one of the most important ways of building rapport with prospective customers. The human element in sales is hard to overstate, as trusting the salesperson will make it much easier for the prospect to trust what they have to say about your products and services.
Sales conversations are also an invaluable resource when learning more about who your customers are and their biggest challenges. Over time, as you talk with more of your ideal buyers, you will discover precisely what they care about the most and how to better cater to their needs.
This knowledge will not just help make more sales directly but will also influence your branding, product development, marketing, customer support, and every other part of your business.
Finally, by having in-depth conversations with each customer, you can discover exactly what they need your product to do and adjust your pitch (as well as your services) to match those needs better than anyone else could.
Most prospective buyers are likely considering more than one solution, so being more specific and responsive to the unique challenges each prospect is facing can provide you with a considerable edge over the competition.
Keys to Better Sales Conversations
Now that we’ve defined sales conversations and figured out why they’re important, let’s look at some of the best strategies for starting and having better sales conversations that will consistently produce good outcomes.
Perform Thorough Research
Engaging sales conversations don’t happen by accident. Instead, they require thorough preparation because, as a salesperson, you only get one shot at starting sales conversations that draw in the prospect and make them interested in what you have to offer.
You need to know as much as possible about the person you’re speaking with. That’s the only way to provide relevant information, personalize the message according to their needs, and get ahead of any objections they might have about your product or company.
But what steps should you go through when performing customer research for sales?
Well, you should always start simple and build from there. Look up the company’s website and its overall online presence, and understand how they operate. Try to evaluate how big the company is, how many employees they have, and what processes they use for generating sales and running the company.
Then, start digging deeper into the company, looking at the management and the key decision-makers who are likely to be the people to target.
To enhance the research process, you can utilize services such as TaskDrive’s B2B lead research, which can provide you with a much more detailed understanding of the clients you’re trying to reach.
Once you have a good overview, consider the pain points that the company is likely to have at the moment, rating them based on how well your product could help address them. This way, you should find an effective way to frame your product that will generate interest immediately.
Before you can start laying out the rational arguments for why your product is the right fit, you need to have the attention and the trust of the person you’re speaking to. And that’s why a crucial part of starting sales conversations is building rapport and establishing a connection that you can build upon through every stage of the sales process.
But finding a way to connect with a prospective client is easier said than done. It’s very easy to be perceived as just another salesperson pushing their product, even if you genuinely know that your product is an ideal fit for the client’s situation.
To give yourself a better shot, start with asking the right sales questions that tap into the very core of the issue they are currently facing. These types of questions will immediately show that you are familiar with their situation and understand what they need to solve.
Then, allow them to share experiences around the problem and be an active and engaged listener. This is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about the situation and help them connect the dots to how your product might be the missing piece that solves the issue.
Finally, don’t fall for the appeal of using gimmicks such as NLP and instead focus on being honest and addressing any faults or shortcomings your product might have as well. Your job is not to convince the client that the product is ideal, but instead that, all things considered, it’s the best option in their situation.
Have a Tight Pitch
Many less experienced salespeople tend to talk in circles. They have a lot of information they have memorized about the product, so they want to share as much as possible with the client. But while providing more detail can be helpful, more information by no means correlates with more sales.
In fact, if you talk too much, you might confuse, irritate, or bore the prospect into giving up on the conversation altogether.
So, while you should definitely be ready to provide as much information as necessary, you should also have a very tight and defined pitch that you can share in just a few seconds. This pitch should not only encompass the key proposition your product delivers but also address a core need the prospect you’re talking to is facing.
That pitch can often end up being the key thing the prospect takes away from the conversation, especially if it’s relevant and easy to remember. And having a concise and logical way to justify a purchase to colleagues and partners will come in very handy once they share the idea with others.
One of the fastest ways to lose your prospect’s interest is to read prepared messages from a script. Most people will immediately notice that you’re not actually participating in the conversation, and making a sale after that will be an uphill battle.
That’s why it’s crucial to treat the conversation with each individual as unique and personalize it as much as possible. Sure, you can still have a script that covers the most important topics you want to go through, but it should be used as a rough guideline rather than something to stick to at all times.
If you perform thorough research and utilize services like TaskDrive’s lead research, you will already be way ahead of most competitors and will have specific knowledge that you can use to generate interest.
But as you go through multiple conversations with each lead, you should also keep track of what was discussed and what you learned, using that information for starting sales conversations that are relevant to that stage of the buyer’s journey.
Paint the Picture of the Potential
Sales are as much about emotion as they are about logic. In fact, emotion might play a bigger role in sales decisions than facts, even though people usually use facts and logic to justify the purchase afterward.
Therefore, while you should be prepared and have a strong argument for why your product is the right choice, you must also help the client form an emotional connection with the outcome that you are offering as part of your pitch.
And that’s why painting a picture is such a powerful sales technique.
If you can get your prospect to envision the potential outcome of using your product in as much detail as possible, you will have a much easier time convincing them that the arguments you lay out make sense.
They will have experienced a glimpse of what their daily life would be like after they bought your solution, and those positive associations could then become the driving force behind a buying decision.
Show Why They Should Trust You
Trust can be hard to earn when you’re in sales. Most prospects have their guard up when they talk to a salesperson, even if for no other reason than being afraid of getting duped or misled.
So, while your arguments might be sound and you may come from a genuine position of trying to help, you will face the steep task of getting the person to trust you unless you can back up every claim you make.
Luckily, if you have a successful product that actually helps people, you should have plenty of proof that can help solidify your arguments and show the value you can bring through others’ successes.
Instead of having to take you at your word, prospects can see the stories of your past clients, who were in a similar situation as they are now and were able to overcome them using the solutions you provided.
Lay Out the Next Steps
Sometimes, starting and maintaining effective sales conversations depends on showing the prospect what steps they’ll have to go through. Not knowing how working with your company would look can bring a lot of uncertainty that can make people hesitant, even if they would otherwise be excited about the prospect of solving a pressing problem.
To alleviate this, make sure you clearly communicate how the process of working with you would look like. You should lay out the exact steps that it would take, making the process as simple and convenient as possible.
Once it’s clear that there are no hurdles left and all they need to do is make a decision, closing the sale will become much simpler.
Starting sales conversations and keeping prospects engaged is a crucial part of closing more sales. Only through conversations can you expect to educate, inform, and remove doubts that could stand in the way of success.
Using the strategies above, you can approach every sales conversation with more confidence, knowing how to communicate with each prospect and provide them with the most persuasive argument for moving the process forward.