When’s the last time you had a conversation with your customer? A two-way dialogue, rather than asking a bunch of questions sales training convinced you would inevitably lead into selling and buying mode?
Once you transition into those now rather well-known, sales-spiel idiomatic questions (you know what they are, I won’t repeat them in this post), you run the risk of turning off your customer. You are engaged in stereotypic sales chit chat. The exact type of chit chat they are anticipating.
They’ve heard it all before. While you may initially have them at your “Hello,” you lose your advantage when you commoditize yourself via sales chit chat. Can you catch yourself before you lapse into verbal sales patterns that have been drummed into your brain in every sales position you ever had?
The conversation may never have been yours to lead in the first place. If you want your prospect to do business with you, then focus on the customer’s company, not yours.
Not all selling conversations are chit chat. Trouble is, most individuals in a selling role don’t know that. They don’t read blog posts by the top folks in the sales, marketing, referral selling, and business development arenas. They don’t buy books on selling. They rely on their company to educate them.
Problem is, you may have spent years learning an easily-applied, status quo, one size fits all approach to selling. Doesn’t your own practical experience in the field tell you that status quo selling yields status quo results?
Customer conversations are the front end of developing business. Selling conversations appear somewhere in the last third of the business development process. Customer engagement leading to buying decisions isn’t achieved via sales chit chat.
Customers want to engage in conversations that are relevant to their own business and the industry segment in which they play. Customers seek sales people who take the time to do their homework, not only about their company, but their marketplace, industry, competition, and trends impacting all of the above.
If you spend all your time memorizing the latest marcom strategies involving “overcoming objections” or “pricing strategies” then you aren’t going to be paying attention to what your customer is saying to you. You know what I am talking about. Marcom strategies can change from month to month depending on how the quarter is going for your company.
You are the person with their ear to the rail, in the trenches with the customer. That’s the reality of business development and subsequent selling. If you are doing your homework, and thinking outside the sales box provided by your company, if there is one, then you know what you have to do.
Develop the capability to have those conversations with your customers that even they didn’t realize they wanted to have – with you.
Develop your own sweet spot, area of expertise, which allows you to provide relevance and value to your customers, time after time, regardless of whether you are selling widgets or complex technology and services.
Rather than pushing yourself at customers, you will find they begin to seek you out. They call you for that customer conversation even when the buying cycle isn’t right. Then they will find the budget to invest in your solutions.
Customer conversations help you develop yourself as a sales professional, a person of worth, and a person who means business for your customer base. And that’s no idle chit-chat.
Babette N. Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC, brings entrepreneurial mojo back into small and mid-sized businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. She builds vibrant revenue-producing business strategies for technical start-ups seeking investors and early customers.
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