If you're in sales, you've probably already discovered the peril of the sales conversation — you let yourself get a little out of control, talking too much about your products, your successes or your need to make a sale. Learning to relax and let the conversation between you and the customer flow makes all the difference when it comes to closing a sale. Here are five tips on how to have an effective sales conversation.
Have an Agenda
Before you visit a customer, place a phone call or shoot off an email, then sit down for a second to figure out what you're hoping to accomplish. It's probably too early to expect closing a sale during your first contact with a customer, so be realistic. What's your agenda for this particular sales conversation and for the relationship in general? Think long-term so that you don't put too much pressure on a potential customer right away.
Do Your Homework
Research is key to holding effective sales conversations. Collect all the data that you have access to before you initiate a sales call, and think about the needs of your customer. Learning about the company you hope to do business with is vital, as is learning any information you can about your particular sales contact. See what you have in common, and think through the transaction from the customer's point of view. Once you've identified the ways in which your interests overlap, you have an entry point to begin your conversation.
Listen to the Customer
Your main goal as a salesperson is not to make a sale but to meet your customer's needs. To do this, you have to know not only what your customer needs but also what he thinks he needs. Your research should help you understand the first, but you need to take time to listen to your customer to truly make a connection. As part of your sales conversation, ask questions to learn what the customer's long-term goals and visions are so you can position yourself as the solution.
Make the Ask
The combination of your research and your listening can help you know what your next step should be, whether it's to close a deal or just to set up another meeting. Let your customer know you're committed to continuing the relationship and to meeting his needs, and he's likely to respond to what you're asking.
Move Forward in an Attitude of Trust
Once you've made it clear that meeting your customer's needs is your highest priority, you can move forward with a bond of trust established between the two of you. This is vital if your customer is to do business with you and see you as the solution to his problem.
An effective sales conversation requires two-way communication. Rather than making a pitch, turn your interaction with customers into a true conversation, in which you listen to your customer express his needs and dreams even more than you talk about your products and services. By establishing rapport and trust, your customer is likely to return to you to meet future needs as well.
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