Sales runs on communication. Is it not obvious? Without demonstrating value, you cannot sell anything to a prospect. Now that cannot be achieved if you as an effective salesperson has not understood the prospects problems and devised a valuable strategy. At the end, all this is possible only with the right communication. Can you believe that only 12% of customers believe salespeople care about their needs? It is an even lower percentage for the belief that their problems will be solved by sales reps who understand their needs.
At the end of the day, it all lies in your communication. Successful salespeople know the power of conversation and how they need to phrase their pitches correctly. You do not want to end up offending the client or making them feel indebted to you.
You also do not want to leave things ambiguous and end up miscommunicating or letting them assume things. Keep reading for an experience faced by Mr. Venkataraman Subramanyan, the Founder and Director of Sales Effectiveness and Execution Excellence at Tripura Multinational, in his words-
A change in our communication style
Seoul – a city that rhymes with Soul, and a city that beckons you to discover its depth beyond just the superficial. The Intercontinental was a majestic hotel to get a good night’s sleep, and I was ready to participate, facilitate and contribute to the quarterly business reviews for a client.
The first day left me wondering how they could fit so much information onto each of their slides – every slide looked so comprehensive, and they had been designed to talk to us. That ‘tailoring” of information drew my respect. It seemed uncanny how they could manage their achievements in line with their commitments and budgets.
On Day 2 for the strategy refresh, I remember asking the question “What share of market growth did you capture last quarter?” I was glad that the silence it elicited translated into a better market-aligned strategy for the next few quarters. They dared to move away from the internal and the incestual, to align their strategies to become more external and experiential for their customers.
On Day 3 morning, we were all ready to leave. I walked up to the Korean leader and said “If any help is required at any point in time, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. I would be most happy to help.” The Korean leader smiled and said, “Venkat, you are a busy man. I will try my best not to disturb you.” I smiled, we shook hands and I moved to the elevator.
Alone in the elevator, I felt something gnawing at me as I recalled the Korean leader’s response – and suddenly, the real meaning of his response hit me. What he was meaning was “Please take a hike, Venkat, and do remember to park your ego elsewhere.”
That was a painful realization, and I realized that my intent was clouded by my ego and my articulation did a disservice to my intent. When I asked him to reach out to me for help, I was unknowingly undermining his capability and competence. A better way for me to have articulated this would have been, “If there is any way I could serve your teams to achieve more, do please let me know, and it would always be my pleasure.”
As I connect the dots from my experience to those of millions of others who serve their clients daily, I realized that it is not just the right intent in your heart, but also the right articulation that together makes the difference.
What we learn from this experience is the importance of careful communication to articulate your intentions correctly. It is a myth that exceptional salespeople are born and not made. We are here to break that myth and prove that there is always room for improvement and growth.
Personalization goes a long way in sales conversations. You need to address the client the way they wish to be treated, especially if it is an international call. It makes sense to do your research about the client first before beginning a call.
Here are some ways you can make your conversations memorable and craft client relationships that last.
Visualization is key
One change in communication would be your point of focus during the sales call. Try not to talk about your business and its achievements. Spend more time talking about the features of your product and the benefits it can provide to the client.
“The first thing I was taught as a sales rep is the value of demos. I always take a sample of my product with me or a prototype if it is still in the works. I explain the features to the client and connect its uses to their pain points. In the middle of the meeting, I pull out my laptop and show them the software. For example, say my product is something like WhatsApp Web. I will let my client scan the code on their phones and sign into their account. I will let them explore a bit and use the software firsthand for their needs. Now they know what the product looks like, feels like, and how they will be benefitted while using it,” said a sales rep from a communications agency in Chennai.
This technique is also called visualization. You are not just telling the client what your product does for them – you are giving them the experience either mentally or physically. It makes them get an idea of how their business would be after buying the service or product and makes their decision more informed.
This is a major change in communication salespeople need to make. They often ask powerful questions, but they do not land right owing to how they are phrased. For example, try to find the more powerful question out of these two:
- Have you partnered with any other brand/service before us?
- What did not work with your past attempts which have made you approach us?
See the difference here? The first question can be answered with a yes or no. it will give an abrupt end to the flow of conversation and will take you time to bring it back on track. But the second question is more targeted.
You are not assuming the client has tried any previous brand before you, but you know they have tried to sort out their pain points. Being unable to find a solution, they have approached you – this is for certain. Hence, it makes sense to target this aspect and ask them what went wrong. It will help you arrive at what you can do right to help them avoid risks and failure.
Watch how you speak about competitors
Research states that if you bad mouth your competitors or try to compare yourself to them, it gives your audience a bad aftertaste. They put you in the same category and conclude that you are no different. For example, if an insurance agent told you his policy is different from other agencies, would you immediately hop on board?
Try not to compare yourself to your competitors and show your audience the definite differentiators. Try to give them an idea of how their future would look with your brand vs the competitor’s brand. It will help your client trust you and understand your value. It will also help you stand out from the competition and prove you are the best.
Try team selling
Several salespeople have said their successful meetings involved their CEOs, product experts, designers, and any other important stakeholders. It will help your team understand the client’s issue based on their department of expertise and provide solutions accordingly. The right mix of experts can always make calls more engaging and valuable to the client.
“We are a digital marketing agency offering diverse services. When we take a meeting, we always have at least one member from each team on the call with us. If the client asks us about SEO, the SEO analyst is available to provide a strategy. If the client enquires about our social media content, the content curator and designer are present to offer guidance. If the client wants clarity on the budget allocation, the sales and accounts team are present to clarify it. It is far better than telling the client “I will confirm with my team and get back to you shortly” multiple times,” said a team leader from a digital marketing agency in Chennai.
To wrap up, let us just say that communication is a key weapon in a salesperson’s pocket, it is important to constantly sharpen them to make effective use of it. It is all about what conversations you have and how well you articulate your intentions. It is often the difference of just one single misspoken sentence that will affect the client’s impression of your business.
Implement these subtle yet vital changes in your communication and you will notice the difference. It might seem like a complex agenda to close the deal, but you will get into the groove with practice.
Try to keep the client first and make the meeting revolve around their pain points. At the same time, do not make them feel indebted or helpless – you are here to help them, not show them how badly they need you!
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