How do you structure your sales conversations?
Are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of sales professional? Or are you a follow-that-script-come-hell-or-high-water type? Many of us fall somewhere in between.
First, let’s differentiate between script and structure. A sales script is literally what you say in the conversation. Scripts have often been designed to include exact rebuttals to any and all sales objections. Every part of the conversation is prescribed.
For large firms with huge call centres and hundreds, or even thousands, of sales reps, scripting makes sense. A company needs to ensure that their products are branded and sold consistently.
On the other hand, for consultative selling, a script is more like a straight-jacket that impedes relationships and erodes trust. Your potential client can tell immediately if the questions you’re asking or the offer you’re presenting is canned, or authentic.
Because of this, many sales professionals ‘wing it’. Sometimes they are ‘in the zone’, and they close big deals. But just as often, they are having an off-day or even off-month.
Does this sound familiar? You were flying high, all your calls and meetings were flowing, you felt confident and in control, and you were makin’ rain, Baby! But then somehow, your winning streak ended. Now you’re panicking, because you can’t seem to get it back. And since you don’t really know how you did it, you’ve got a serious problem.
Every day that your sales are in the doldrums, your confidence takes another hit. It’s getting harder and harder to feel good about yourself, and the thought of picking up the phone is almost unbearable.
This is the problem with wingin’ it. There is no predictability of success. Which is why serious sales professionals understand the value of a solid call structure.
Instead of the straight-jacket of a script, structure gives you freedom and predictable success.
Here are the five must-have elements of successful sales conversations:
Taking a few minutes to build a connection with your prospect or client sets the tone and helps both parties to relax. Different personality types have different needs for connection. Get to know what your client needs, and adapt. If we are chatty, we can assume our client is, too. Or if we always feel the need to immediately get down to business, we can assume that is what our prospect expects from us. Instead, watch and listen carefully for clues, and adapt your style to put your client at ease.
This is the moment where you ‘call the meeting to order’. By sharing a clear reason for the call or meeting and a simple agenda, you demonstrate that you respect their time and you’re well-prepared. Be sure to check in to see if there’s anything they would like to add to the agenda.
By far the most important part of any sales interaction is your discovery process. If your sales are not where you want them to be, look here first. In your Discovery, you must uncover a compelling need from the client. If you don’t, no sale. It’s that simple. But the process of getting there, isn’t.
Mastering discovery questions takes practice. Look to uncover a deep understanding of where they are and where they want to get to. Avoid asking questions that are directly linked to your offering. This is manipulation, not discovery. Focus wholly on your client, and through this questioning process, you will likely uncover not one, but several ways you can help them.
Based on what you’ve discovered, you can now share your expert advice, present options and make recommendations. Remember to link your recommendations directly to their need, so that the client sees exactly how this will improve their situation. Always aim to provide two or three options and then allow them to choose which one feels best for them.
Depending on where you are in the sales process, the close may be simply agreeing to a next step such as yes, I’ll get all of my financial information to you by this Friday. If all the interim steps have been accomplished and your client has agreed with your recommendations, then this is the time for you to take the reins and make your invitation:
Ms. Client, it sounds like you’re in agreement that a and b are the right fit for you, is that right? (yes!) Any final questions? (No, I’m good.) Great. Let’s get the paperwork signed. I can file this and have x,y,z in place within 48 hours.
Different sales professionals will tweak the order of these steps slightly, or include different things, but all successful sales interactions contain these elements.
Have a look at which parts of your calls or meetings feel disorganized. Notice where you lose their interest and make a few tweaks to that part of the interaction.
These five elements create a strong, dependable structure for your calls. They will give you both the freedom to let fly your best instincts, and the sturdiness to harness your talents into predictable success.
Did you enjoy this article? Kira writes weekly articles packed with actionable tips for sales professionals in the financial services industry. Sign up here to receive Kira’s article delivered straight to your inbox every Tuesday.
Kira Callahan is an expert sales conversation coach serving the financial industry. Her private clients typically experience 30% – 100% increase in appointments and business booked. Click here to find out more about Kira.