Everyday I read articles about how to conduct sales conversations. They get into topics like, “do you start with ‘How are you…,'” They extend into the exact sentence structure, use these words, don’t use these, counter with this, use these pattern interrupts, here are the sequences. There is discussion about authenticity, which often seems to be faux authenticity; sometimes accompanied by recommendations on mirroring, facial expressions, and so forth. The tricks, gimmicks, and techniques around this specialized segment of “conversations,” seems to go on and on and on……
We even have tools that are supposed to guide us on having intelligent conversations–“ask no more than four conversations and swear once…” But somehow, our sales conversations don’t seem so intelligent.
It’s exhausting. I feel like my very first golf lesson–taught by a close friend, rather than a pro; “Do these 25 things this way…..and you might hit it 50 yards….”
Yet, despite all this expert guidance, customers want fewer and fewer conversations with sellers.
One wonders, “What if we think about normal conversations?” We are engaged in, possibly, hundreds of conversations everyday. We talk to work colleagues in the course of doing our jobs, we interrupt others, asking for help on something, looking for progress on a project, getting information. We talk to others every day–interrupting them, perhaps disagreeing with them, perhaps learning or collaborating to solve a shared problem.
These conversations are not limited to work, we have conversations with friends, family, colleagues, even complete strangers. Some are expected, some are unexpected, some may even be unwelcome. They may be interruptions to what we are doing or we may be interrupting others. But somehow we are able to have these conversations. Some are very focused and purposeful, some are more casual.
We learn in those conversations, sometimes we realize we aren’t listening well, needing to improve our listening skills. Sometimes we find we aren’t presenting our positions well, and we reassess how we communicate our ideas.
We, often, miscommunicate, sometimes we have to apologize. Sometimes people aren’t interested in talking, we may just not talk to them, or we may think about what we might do to get them to be more interested.
But, conversations are a part of everyday life, at work, going to/from work, with our families and others. And, for the most part, we are pretty good at conducting those conversations, and we know how to make progress. We learn success in conversations usually starts with being interested, then being interesting. We know that conversations are two way exchanges of ideas and opinions, in which there is shared interest. There may be agreement or disagreement, but we try to learn and move forward.
Somehow, there’s become this view that “sales conversations” have to be different. Very little of the discussion has to do with the content of the conversation, the concept of listening, learning, engaging. There is little discussion about two way conversations of shared interest.
Sales conversations have become “battles,” in which the prospect is the adversary that has to be won over. And the conversation about sales conversations tend to focus on tactics, tricks, and techniques about how to overcome the resistance.
Sales conversations are failing.
But conversations about ideas, about change, about agreement and disagreement continue. We are interrupted every day and we interrupt every day. But somehow we have conversations that get things done, where we learn, and with those we care about.
Maybe we, sellers, would be more impactful and engaging if we just started having normal conversations–those are what people seem to be interested in.