Let’s talk about how losing control of the conversation is causing you to lose deals.
Sales professionals often run into a situation where they get in front of a prospect that is a know-it-all. The prospect might be tenured. Or maybe the prospect has been in the industry longer than you have. This is the kind of prospect who will try to control or dominate the conversation on your sales call. It could be that this prospect is trying to demonstrate that they know more than you. It’s also possibl that they’re just the kind of person who likes to talk a lot. Either way, at some point you’re going to realize that you are no longer controlling the direction of this call. So how do you handle a prospect who is completely dominating the conversation? It’s actually pretty simple. I break it down into three simple steps that require you to control the conversation by asking questions.
Acknowledge– Inquire– Ask
Every sales coach, sales manual and sales training book will tell you build great value by asking great questions to uncover the customer’s needs. If your customer doesn’t understand, your questions didn’t do what they were supposed to do. In other words, just keep talking. The right questions will allow you to maintain control of the conversation. Your customer is going to have questions, concerns, or feedback. They might be driving the discussion in a way that it is totally irrelevant to your goals; or it may be perfectly relevant to your goals. Either way, you’re not the one in control of the narrative. The response is the same. You answer, you engage, and then you take back control by asking your own questions. It may take a series questions to steer your conversation to the direction you want it to go in. If the customer is droning on about his last hunting trip, you ask questions that engage him about the hunting trip but that also move that conversation in a way that allows you to highlight the product or service you’re selling that day. Three simple steps: Acknowledge the statement; Inquire for more information; Follow that up with additional question(s) that moves the conversation in the direction of your sales presentation. Now you have control of the conversation.
It’s not a secret: you’re there to generate revenue
Don’t ever allow yourself to feel uncomfortable with having to ask challenging or difficult questions. We’re sales professionals. Our prospects know what we’re there for. They know we’re trying to sell something. It’s not a secret; we make money by generating revenue. So I’m not going to feel bashful about taking control of the conversation. But there’s more to the story than asking questions. If you don’t ask the right questions, you may get answers you don’t care for. Yes/No questions don’t serve you. Neither do questions that remind the customer that they’re already happy with their current process. In order to get around the problem of asking the wrong questions, you need a pre-call plan. Do the research before the sales appointment. It’s not done in the middle of the appointment. If you show up to a sales call unprepared, your prospect will be able to see that. In doing that, you demonstrate you’re not dedicated to your craft and you’re not dedicated to providing a solution to your prospect.
It’s all about planning and being in control of the conversation. It’s simple and a good sales professional can put these steps into action right now.