Conversations with prospects can make or break a sale. When sales leaders train the rest of the team on how to have better conversations, revenue numbers will improve. A well-chosen and well-used customer relationship management system provides essential support to meaningful, fruitful conversations.
Key Principles for Successful Sales Conversations
All communication is a two-way process. Good conversationalists know that the secret is to show genuine interest by listening more than they talk. Sales staff need to be trained to approach conversations as an avenue to learn more about the prospect before they even consider talking about your product or service.
“I discovered early on that people don’t buy from me because they understand what I’m selling,” says Jon Berghoff, a successful sales professional who now consults and trains others through his business, Global Empowerment Coaching, as quoted in Susan Cain’s book Quiet. “They buy because they feel understood.”
If you treat customers and prospects like numbers on a sales report or revenue stream, you’ve lost them. And rest assured, people will be able to tell if the sales rep is just using listening as a space holder, waiting for a good moment to launch into a sales spiel. The curiosity and understanding must be genuine.
Listening involves asking intelligent questions – as many as necessary -- to clarify and delve deeper into what you are being told. For instance, before we talk about what Creatio CRM can do for business process management, we often ask prospects, “Help me understand your day-to-day as (insert role here) at (insert company name here).”
Then based on what they describe, we can dig a bit further to learn their vision of challenges and what solutions they have attempted that either worked well or didn’t. What we learn here often is the start to eventually formulating an effective use case for the CRM/BPM solution they need.
Make your questions open-ended; then stop talking and listen. If you need clarification on something you’ve just heard, ask for it. Don’t be afraid it will make you look unknowledgeable. It actually communicates to prospects that you are indeed listening and want to understand.
If your conversation is by phone, have your CRM open in front of you. That way, as prospects talk, you can enter information they share into the comments or contact history record.
Creatio full web, tablet, and mobile phone user interfaces
For face-to-face conversations, stay off your screens and instead focus on their verbal and nonverbal communication. Then open the program as soon as possible after the meeting to capture what you’ve learned as well as your thoughts about possible next actions. Be safe; don’t do this as you drive, of course -- but we advise taking a moment before leaving your parking area to use the mobile Creatio app for this purpose.
What you enter will immediately sync so there will be no lag in coworkers being able to see the latest information on that prospect. Perhaps you can even have a template prepared so you can send a quick email or text thanking them for the meeting and confirming the next step you’ve agreed on.
Principle 2: Prepare well
Preparation means paying attention to the latest, most valid information about the person on the other side of the table or phone connection. If prospects need to repeat information they’ve already told someone else, they’ll likely feel frustrated and get the idea that someone has not been paying attention to them in the way they deserve. Do a favor for coworkers, even in other departments, and provide them with all the information they will need for the next meaningful conversation. If you can’t readily access current information, you need a unified, user-friendly CRM such as Creatio that will provide it at your fingertips.
But wait, there’s more! Two bonus tips:
Bonus 1: Respect their time. If they say they only have five minutes, wrap it up then and ask about a follow-up step. Don’t make them interrupt you in order to escape.
Bonus 2: Make respect universal. Yes, you want to talk to decision-makers. But speaking just as respectfully with the associate who answers the phone. It is not a waste of time in the long run, because word of your courtesy or the lack of it will filter back. And even if it doesn’t, it’s a matter of integrity.
Incorporate these principles and tips into your organizational practices
and see the impact it has on your business development and culture.
Next Action Steps
- Does your CRM provide the best possible support to successful sales conversations?
- Does it prepare your sales staff well to be good listeners?
- How could it do better?
Our clients affirm that we ask good questions and listen well to their needs and goals. We’d like to hear about yours.
To receive a call from Julie or Dick, contact us. Phone: 269-445-3001 or Email
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