Knowing how to have an effective sales conversation that converts prospects into clients is an essential skill that every business owner must possess.
Yet so many business owners shy away from sales conversations whether it be due to lack of knowledge or confidence. Instead, they focus on other areas of their business like marketing or customer service in the hopes that they can compensate for their inability to sell.
I’m going to show you how to have a simple and effective sales conversation that converts.
Before You Have A Sales Conversation
An underlying theme to every sales conversation is trust.
Prospects will only purchase your products and services in direct relation to the amount of trust you’ve earned with them.
That’s why the systems and strategies I teach to my clients in the Book Yourself Solid Masterclass and the Alliance focus so heavily on developing trust over time. If you can earn trust with your prospects, and be clear about who you serve and what you do for them, they’ll come to you.
If you can build trust with your prospects through your website, email list, and other means, you’ll rarely feel like you need to sell. That is because the prospects who approach you to have a sales conversation will already trust you and know if they’re likely a qualified candidate. That means that your sales conversation really becomes a logistics and pricing conversation, and the pressure to ‘sell’ is greatly reduced.
I’ve written an article that will teach you How To Nurture Your Network And Earn Trust.
Nothing Is Perfect
I’m going to outline 10 Steps To The Perfect Sales Conversation, but let me be clear and say that there is no single formula that will be perfect in every situation.
Sales conversations should be organic and flow like any other conversation. Rarely will a sales conversation follow a predictable format.
Use the following 10 steps as a framework upon which to build your sales conversations, but be flexible and ready to change the course of your conversations when needed.
10 Steps To The Perfect Sales Conversation:
Step 1: Set The Stage
If somebody agrees to have a sales conversation with you, they’re coming to you for guidance. They want to work with you. They want you to help them achieve their goals or meet their needs. As such, it is extremely important that you exude confidence. You can do this by taking the lead, and control of the conversation.
You may think, “I don’t want to take control. I don’t want to seem pushy; it might scare them away,” but that’s backwards thinking. They want you to take control. They want to see that you’re an authority who can confidently walk them through a process.
To set the stage, you need to be clear about the goal of your conversation. Here’s how I start my sales conversations:
I’m thrilled we’re taking today.
To be clear, we’re not going to solve any specific problems or provide you with coaching today. We’re simply going to get clear about what you need, and determine whether or not I’m the right person to help you get it.
There are three key areas we will cover during our conversation.
First, we’ll discuss your existing situation or business, what’s working, what’s not, and what prompted our conversation today.
Second, we’ll talk about your goals, and the vision you have for what life or your business could be like.
And finally, we’ll identify what you need to do to take action, get results, and move you towards that vision quickly.
That’s it. You simply want to cover the key points of the conversation when setting the stage so your prospect knows what to expect.
It’s not in depth or complicated, but it does give your prospect an overview of how the conversation will unfold and reassures them that they’re in your capable hands.
Step 2: Identify Needs & Desires
You need to find out why this prospect is talking to you now. What is different today than last week, last month, or last year, that has prompted them to take action and talk with you.
Yes, they’ve come to you looking for your help, services, or products, but you still want to take the time to figure out exactly what it is they are looking for and why.
You can get that clarity by asking questions like:
“Give me a 60 second summary of your situation?”
“What isn’t working in your business/life right now?”
“What changed recently that prompted this conversation?”
“What’s at stake if you don’t find a solution to your problem?”
Be prepared that these questions may leave your prospect feeling somewhat discouraged or feeling down. After all, they’ve probably come to you because they’re unhappy with their current situation.
But don’t worry, that will all change in the next step.
Step 3: Create A Vision
Now that we know where your prospect currently is, you want them to describe a vision for where they want to be.
Get specific about what success would look like for them. Will they have more free time to spend with their kids? Will they be able to take that vacation they’ve always dreamed of? Maybe they’ll have peace of mind knowing where their next paycheck is coming from. Maybe you’ll help them unlock their life’s purpose.
Work with your prospect to figure out how it will feel when they’ve achieved their goal. When you can get them to connect with those feelings, their vision will start to resonate with them.
By “resonate”, I mean that sense that everything is ‘landing’, they’re excited about what they are going to create, and they have a strong desire to realize their vision.
You can usually tell when their vision is resonating by watching for some visual and oral cues. For example, their voice or their energy level may change. They might sit-up or stand a little bit different than they were before the ideas started to resonate. In some cases the desire to take action becomes so strong that they can’t sit still.
To get your prospect resonant about their vision, ask powerful questions like these:
“What would life be like if you achieved your goals and vision?”
“How would it impact your family, friends, and clients.”
“How would achieving this vision honour your values?”
When you see and feel your prospect becoming resonant, it’s time to move along to the next step
Step 4: Uncover Their Bottleneck
You’ve helped your prospect to articulate where they’re currently at and why they’re not happy. You’ve also helped them create a vision for what success would look and feel like.
So why isn’t your prospect taking action? Why aren’t they already moving towards their vision.
Maybe up until this point they didn’t know what their vision was, but most often they are experiencing one of three possible bottlenecks:
- They don’t know what to do.
- They don’t have the skills to do it.
- They want someone to help them.
Whatever the reason, your products and services may be the thing your prospect needs to move past their bottleneck and move closer to their vision.
How do you determine whether or not you can help your prospect? By asking one, simple, yet powerful question:
“What’s preventing you from overcoming your current situation, and making the vision you’ve described a reality?”
Listen closely to their response.
Can your products or services help them?
If not, you may want to recommend some other resource or person that can help them. They’ll appreciate it.
If you can help, move on to step 5.
Step 5: Tell Them Why They Are Ideal
If you can help your prospect, it’s time to let them know. But before you tell them what you can do, tell them why they’re an ideal client.
Don’t lie. You’re not just trying to book a client for the sake of making a few bucks. You only want to work with your ideal clients.
Why is it important to only work with ideal clients?
When you work with ideal clients, they energize you, inspire you, and allow you to do your best work. That is incredibly important for building a successful business.
If they really are your ideal client, share with them the reasons why. Maybe it’s because you’re excited about their vision, you share the same values, or they stand for something that resonates with you.
Put yourself in that potential client’s shoes. If someone were to say to you, “Look, you’re my ideal client. You inspire me. And I do my best work with people like you.” How is that going to make you feel? Pretty darn good.
But, what if your prospect isn’t an ideal client? You can still choose to work with them, but be aware that you will be making compromises, and that may affect how much you enjoy your work and the quality of service you deliver.
After you’ve told them why they’re an ideal client, move to step 6.
Step 6: Tell Them How You Work
Your prospect is probably getting excited about working with you by this point, but they still need more details on how you work. In as concise and straight forward a way as possible, you’re going to let the prospect know about your process for working with clients.
Be sure to connect your product or services to the needs they identified in step 4. Illustrate how working with you will help them overcome their bottleneck.
For example, if you were having a conversation with me, I’d say:
My clients have unlimited access to me.
We begin by getting very clear about the vision for your business and how it fits into the big picture of your life.
We then assess the key business elements that you have in place, and the ones you need to work on, and create a quarterly plan to outline every step necessary for achieving your vision.
Our coaching calls then become a time for me to help you execute on your plan, guide you in making decisions, support you, champion you, and hold you accountable when needed.
Between our coaching calls you’ll have full access to me by email, and you’ll also have access to an online library of courses and resources that I’ve created exclusively for my clients.
This is the most effective format I’ve found for helping business owners get more clients.
That’s all it takes – a brief synopsis of how you work with your clients.
Be careful not to sound like a robot and avoid describing every detail of your business. It may overwhelm your prospect. If they have more questions, they’ll ask.
Step 7: Recap & Focus
You’ve already covered a lot of ground. Now you want to make sure that you and your prospect are clear about everything you’ve discussed before determining next steps.
At this point you want to recap. In your words, quickly summarize:
- What their current situation looks like.
- The vision they have.
- What needs to change.
- Why they’re an ideal client.
- What products or services you have that they need.
Check in with them to ensure you’ve got it right.
Next, you want to ask one, simple question:
“What has been most valuable for you so far?”
For many prospects, this will be the first time they’ve had so much clarity about their situation, but whatever their response, they’ll be focusing on the value you’ve already delivered, and the trust you’ve earned with them.
Finally, you want to remind them that the two of you are a good fit by asking a question like this:
“We’ve identified what needs to change. We’ve established why you and I would be a great fit to work together. And I’ve explained how I can help you achieve your goals. What should happen next?”
Some prospects will want to start working together immediately, but most will have more questions. Answer them.
At this point the most common question you’ll receive is regarding price, and that is exactly what the next step covers.
Step 8: Tell Them Your Price
This is the step most people dread.
People get nervous talking about or asking for money.
But let me remind you, this prospect agreed to have a sales conversation with you. You walked them step-by-step through a process of determining their needs and assessing whether or not you are the right person to help them get what they want. And, they’re still talking to you. They want to work with you. By this point in the conversation, your price is merely a formality.
Be confident in your pricing. After all, if you don’t believe in the value you deliver, why would anyone else?
Whether you’re raising the topic of price, or your prospect has asked, you should follow these three simple steps:
- Tell them how much you charge.
- Ask “How does that work for you?”
- Shut up.
Shutting-up is the hardest part. The moment you put your price out there, you’ll start second guessing yourself. But remember that the prospect will need to take a moment or two to think about how the price works for them, and while they’re thinking for two seconds, it will feel like two minutes of silence.
They are not just considering your price. They’re considering the balance between your price and the value they will receive. In other words, they’re considering their return on investment, and that may take a moment. So give them some time, and shut up.
Let me say that again… shut up.
Don’t offer a discount. Don’t offer a payment plan. Don’t throw in extras. The moment you do those things, you’re sending a message to your prospect that you’re not confident in your pricing, and that will compromise the confidence and trust you’ve earned with them.
When your prospect speaks (and trust me, they will), listen to what they have to say and then respond accordingly.
Maybe your prospect will say, “Great, when do we get started?”
If they want to “think it over”, ask if there’s any questions you can answer now to help them decide. If not, don’t pressure them. Simply give them space and set a time to follow up.
If they respond that the price is more expensive than they anticipated, be prepared to negotiate, but only if that’s something you want to do.
And if you don’t want to negotiate, let them know that you understand their decision and that you hope to be able to work together again at some point in the future.
One very important note… before you have a sales conversation, know what your rate is and be prepared to say it confidently. If you are open to negotiating, know what terms you’re prepared to accept and how low of a price you’re willing to accept.
Step 9: Establish Next Steps
It’s very important to be clear about what your next steps will be.
If your prospect has chosen to work with you, tell them what needs to happen next so you can keep momentum moving forward. Let them know if they need to complete a questionnaire, schedule meetings, make payment arrangements, or anything else.
If your prospect still needs to think about working with you, give them space. Let them know how they can contact you with further questions, and establish a date by which they will make a decision. Also be sure to get permission to follow up if you don’t hear back.
Step 10: Follow-Up
Regardless of whether your prospect has decided to work with you or not, follow-up is extremely important. It helps to further establish trust and build the relationship with your prospect.
Follow-up means simply making a call, mailing a card, or sending an email to say thank you for the opportunity to discuss their needs.
If they’ve chosen to work with you, let them know how and why you’re excited to get started. It will make them feel great about their decision.
If they’ve decided not to work with you, still thank them for their time. Encourage them to take advantage of any free resources you may have and make a point of staying in touch with them as part of your networking strategy or referral strategy. After all, just because someone chooses not to work with you now, doesn’t mean that they won’t become a client in the future.
The steps outlined above provide a structure for sales conversations that has proven incredibly effective for hundreds of my clients.
However, there is no perfect sales conversation. Conversations must flow naturally, so be flexible.
Your sales conversations may last 10 minutes or take place over the course of 10 months. You may even follow these steps out of order depending on how your conversation unfolds.
The key is to remain flexible and remember that your ultimate goal is to earn enough trust with your prospect that they can’t even conceive or working with anyone other than you.
Sales Conversations = Success
The success of your business is directly proportional to the number of sales conversations you have.
Do you struggle or are you confident in having sales conversations? Share your experiences and ask questions in the comments below.