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Having Sales Conversations…..

by David Brock on September 27th, 2022

Imagine, you are sitting at an airport, on a plane, perhaps in a Starbucks, or at a large event and you start talking to a stranger next to you. It doesn’t matter who starts the conversation. But how does it start?

Perhaps both of you just shared a common experience–you saw something happen near you. “What did you think about that speaker?” “Did you see that…?” If you are on an airplane, it may be, “Is Paris your home, or are you going on from there….?” Or, “That book you are reading looks interesting.” Or, “How is your trip going?”

Sometimes, rarely, someone doesn’t want to talk, they might grunt a response. Most of the time, however, the person responds, and those are the start of interesting conversations.

Nothing may come of the conversation, it may be a few moments getting to know someone a little, having them get to know you, sharing a laugh or an observation. Sometimes, the conversations continue, possibly around a topic of shared interest. We ask questions and listen. We make a statement, observation, or share a point of view. We exchange ideas, we may or may not agree, but we probably have learned something. We may find interest in continuing the conversation. We may have spent an interesting few minutes, but decide to go our separate ways.

One thing that never happens in these conversations is, “We make these products solving problems people like you have with this….. Would you be interested in seeing a demo and discussing your needs with me?”

Conversations just don’t get established this way! Or if there is a crazy that does try to do this, we ignore them.

But why do we always start selling conversations with, “We make these products…..?” If this isn’t the way we engage in other conversations, why, when reaching out to a prospect do we start the conversation this way?

How interested would someone be if we started a conversation by talking about us, our companies, how great they and our products are? What is we engaged in monologue about what we do and why we are great? Would the person move to a different chair? Would they bury their head in a book? Would they turn to the person on the other side, trying to escape the pitch?

I know, part of it, is it’s not a natural conversation. We aren’t sitting in an airport, airplane, or next to each other at an event. We are reaching out to someone over the phone, through email, or through some other mechanism. We are interrupting their day. I don’t call people randomly, asking, “What did you think of that beautiful sunrise this morning?”

But why do we make these conversations different? Why don’t we employ similar thinking to the things that drive interesting conversations?

We know successful conversations start with a common experience, or a common interest. They start with questions or observations pertinent to that common interest or experience. We try to engage the person in that discussion, learning about them, their views, and where they are going. And, along the way, we offer observations that may be helpful to them. We may make recommendations for things they might consider.

The skeptics among you may say, “Well how do we know they might have a common experience or interest?”

The answer is easy. We only reach out to people who we know are likely to have that interest or experience. We don’t reach out randomly. We know that people in our ICP have those interests. They confront the issues, challenges, problems that we are interested in talking about.

We don’t know if they are interested in our products/services, but we do know they are interested in their own success, in their business, growing and succeeding. What if we start the conversation on something we know they are likely to be interested in?

We may ask, “Do you face these challenges?” They are likely to, if they are in our ICP. And in the rare case they don’t, “Wow, you are the first person I’ve ever spoken to that doesn’t have that experience? What are you doing differently?”

It seems we would be more successful in our selling conversations, if we modeled them more after our success in everyday conversations we might have with someone we have never met.

Afterword, I’m writing a series of posts on “Basic Selling Skills,” just to remind us what/why we do what we do. The link will take you to that collection.

From → Performance

One Comment
  1. Hi David,
    As simple advice as it is effective. I like the question, “But why do we make these conversations different? Why don’t we employ similar thinking to the things that drive interesting conversations?” I have always encouraged sales folks I manage to refrain from talking about themselves or the company during early conversations and focus on the person you are talking to on a personal level. Thanks for the useful advice.

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