Have you ever wondered, what is the toughest part of the sales cycle? We would say, it is striking the first conversation and making it memorable for the customer. Imagine, you meet a customer, and it is a game-changing deal for you. The meeting goes well, and you hope to get a call back from them soon. But as the weeks pass, they do not respond, and it dawns on you that they are not going to either. You had their attention, but you could not stick to their thoughts by making the conversation memorable.
A common issue sales reps face is the lack of memorable conversations they can engage their customers. Out of all the other brands or service in the market, why must the client choose you? What makes you stand out from the crowd? What are you doing during the sales call to ensure you stay in their minds?
Keep reading to find out how you can make subtle changes to make your sales calls memorable and make a lasting impact on your clients.
For what can you aim?
In every sales conversation, it is important to strike a balance between speaking and listening to your prospects or customers. Salespeople must establish a genuine relationship with their customers and for that it is always great to have a clear objective in mind before starting a sales call. What do you wish to gain out of this meeting? What is in it for you? What is in it for your client? What are you going to say that your competitors cannot offer them?
To add clarity to this, Mr. Venkataraman Subramanyan, the Board Member and Director of Sales Effectiveness and Execution Excellence offers us a page out of his book of expertise. He had recently visited Auckland for a business trip and had a unique experience that was worth sharing.
The story that changed our perspective
It was a lovely Friday evening in Auckland, and we decided to end our workshop slightly early for everyone to get back to their families. Tom stepped up to me and asked if I could spare time for him. He was a sales director and wanted coaching. My flight was only late afternoon back to Singapore and we decided to meet on Saturday morning for a post-breakfast coffee.
Auckland is a beautiful city – I could still recall the sun-soaked pier where we sat down at a table, with seagulls screeching all around. I could see the multiple boats ferrying tourists, taking them for whale and dolphin watching.
We started talking about managing time, building teams, leveraging talent, and utilizing technology.
The conversation naturally veered towards customers, and I asked him “What would it take for you and your team to make every meeting memorable for your customers?”.
He started to think and listed out few pointers – I could sense that all these were related to reason and not connected with emotion. It was important for Tom to realize and appreciate the power of emotion.
I switched perspectives to ask him, “Tell me about your most memorable meeting this month”. Without a moment’s hesitation, he said “This one. In fact, this is the best meeting I had this year”. I was surprised but secretly incredibly pleased.
Rather than revel in the oxytocin, I decided to stretch his thinking “What specifically makes it so memorable?” He said ” Well, it is the genuine connection I feel with you – you want to make me successful. You are asking the right questions to make me think, and I know that I am taking down actionable items that will change my future”.
This was his moment of insight, and all I needed to do was to reframe the context again. “So, what would it take for you and your team to have similar conversations with your customers?” He smiled – Tom was smart enough to understand what was now expected of him and his team. We wished each other well and promised to stay connected.
I now realize that this meeting was memorable for me as well – I realized the power of a genuine connection, focusing on others’ success, and the power of asking tough questions in a subtle manner. These are truly life skills, masked under the cloak of sales skills.
Can these simple skills make the world a better place? Most certainly, and all it takes is for all of us to move from instinctual responses to intentional engagements – all focused on making the other person greater. What are your set of life skills that are unleashing greatness in others?
How emotion drives sales conversations
The key takeaway that Mr. Venkataraman brought to his colleague’s notice is that it is emotion that drives sales – not reasoning and logic. Did Tom trust Venkataraman and form a personal connection with him? Did the meeting:
- Made him think with the right questions
- Made him feel a genuine connection
- Made him feel that Mr. Venkataraman cared about him and his success
- Enable him to take down key actionable solutions to change his future
And this, is the key to a memorable sales conversation! It is the power of making your customers think and asking them tough questions gently. It is also the art of not holding your cards too close to your chest and revealing parts about your business and yourself.
Asking tough questions
Salespeople should not be afraid to ask tough questions to the customers. Sales calls are not about spoon-feeding the facts to the customers. You cannot tell them what your business does, and they must partner with you to be successful. You need to know their pain points and aspirations to give them hope with your services.
Meaningful conversations will involve letting the client speak first. Allowing them to open about their business and recent hiccups they have been facing. This will help you connect your services and ideas to their needs. You can show them that you have been listening and now have a planned and informed solution to aid them.
Making an impression on your customers can be easily achieved if you know what questions to ask. Try to probe beyond the superficial level and ask them coaching questions that will help them think deeper.
Can you imagine the power of asking WHY the client is looking for a specific solution rather than WHAT solution they are looking for? This will help you make them value what you are selling them even if they are downplaying their needs.
Establish your shared interests
This is where the genuine connection between your customer and you come in. The customer already knows what he wants. Try to connect your offering to their lives and make them visualize their brand with your partnership.
“It helps to make the client feel that you are not here just to make a sale. Ask them to describe their brand as it is now. Then create a mental picture for them about what their brand would look like with you in it. If you sell SaaS-based software on the cloud, describe a day in their office using that software. Describe how their clients will be able to communicate effectively with your team and how their team will turn more productive,” said a sales rep from a reputed agency in Chennai.
The source mentioned above brought to light an exciting exercise she follows with her clients. She makes them close their eyes and conducts the visual selling practice she has mentioned above. She asks them to see themselves with your partnership and crafts scenarios in their workplace where they are benefitted. Nine out of ten times, she succeeds in making a sale and creating an impact on her client!
Do not forget to sell
It is all a matter of balance – balancing your customer’s interests and displaying genuine concern with being a good salesperson. A good sales meeting is one in which both parties head home feeling like they won.
The customer got a great deal, and you did not compromise on something below your ideal budget. They felt you cared about them, and you gained their trust. This will lead to a customer relationship that lasts a lifetime!
The beauty of a successful sales call is how customers close themselves rather than you are closing the deal. If they sign off saying, “Great, so I will await your email regarding the minutes of this meeting and the deliverables. I will ask my team to contact you for the financials and we can set up the accounts” – then you, my friend, just won as a salesperson!
The subtle yet vital aspect that differentiates a good salesperson from the best one is communication. If you can hold an engaging conversation and add value to your client, you can enhance their chances of remembering your business.
You do not become yet another salesperson – you become the solution to their ultimate problems. You become a friend they can trust and rely on for their issues. They see growth for their business by partnering with you.
It is the subtle art of asking the right questions and providing timely answers. So, get your sales cap on and show your prospects that you care. And do not forget to make that sale while making them believe you are not here for the money!