How to Set Up an Effective Sales Conversation

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Now more than ever, it is so important for self employed professionals to know how to sell.  You’ve invested money in digital marketing or networking. You’re getting leads.  And if you’re not able to convert the leads into paying clients, you’ll soon run out of cash.  

My Dad told me at 16 years old that if I can sell, I can be successful.  And one of the most meaningful jobs I got out when I graduated out of university was selling industrial soap and pest control to hotels and restaurants achieving great results in the process. After 9 years of that, I moved and started selling recruitment services.  And after, I started my own business and sold business coaching services, and coached people how to sell as well.  

It’s funny that the more things I sold, the more I realise that although the services and products might be different, the pattern of selling is the same. So today I want to take you through the 5 steps of a sales process, so that you can start designing more effective sales conversations that gets you higher conversion.  I also find that following these steps will help you be more comfortable to sell.  Selling is a helpful conversation filled with a combination of listening, digging, and finding solutions.  It’s not about pushing your programmes down people’s throats, and if you want to have a more positive view of selling, please follow these 5 steps in your sales conversations. 

So here is the pattern of any effective sales conversation.  There are 5 basic steps:

  1. The Purpose
  2. The Intro
  3. The Diagnosis
  4. The Solution
  5. The Next steps

1. THE PURPOSE. A good sales person leads the conversation, so establish yourself as the leader in your sales meetings by saying something like: “The purpose of this meeting is to …”  You can fill in the blanks or use a template that fits any industry, such as: “The purpose of this meeting is to get to know where you are now and where you want to be, discuss your challenges and brainstorm some solutions together.  Would that be OK?” Feel free to add to it, but keep it short.  

2. THE INTRO.  I assume you’ve referred them to your website before all this, but it’s always good to re-establish who you are and what you do.  But again, keep it to no more than 2 sentences, and I don’t mean long run-on sentences where you try to fit everything in.  I mean a short intro like this: “We help people ____ so that they can _____.  And my purpose here is to see how we can use what we know to help you achieve your goals.  Is it alright if I ask you some questions?” 

(PAUSE.  Let’s do a quick break here, because I want you to notice something before I go on.  Do you see how I end everything with a question? In the PURPOSE, I ended with “Would that be OK?” and in the INTRO, I ended with “Is it alright if I ask you some questions?”  Why do I do that?  To engage, to get them to say “YES” and to get their permission to go through the process with me.  When they give permission, they are engaging themselves in the conversation. They are allowing me to help them further.  They are opening themselves up to rapport.  I’m not sure about the whole theory of “Get them to say ‘yes’ 7 times and you’ve got the sale” and that’s not where this is going.  This is about making sure the conversation is mutually engaging; that both parties remain committed to go on.)

3. THE DIAGNOSIS.  You all have a set of questions that you use to discover your client’s current situation and their challenges, so this is where you roll them out and listen.  If you don’t have a list of questions, then we need to talk.  That means you’ve been a talking walking brochure all this time.  Please create a list. 

4. THE SOLUTION.  You’ve discovered their challenges and your expert mind has uncovered a few solutions that can help them.  Now it’s time to talk it through.  Instead of going away to create a proposal and then emailing it back to the prospect, can I just suggest you talk out  your solution right then and there?  Co-creating your solution in front of and together with the prospect usually gets me higher conversion rates.  You can write the proposal later, but first take time to bounce off ideas with the prospect and make them feel that the solution is made together.  If you are an expert in what you do, there is usually no reason why you can’t discuss ideas on the spot with them right then and there.  It doesn’t have to be detailed; just a ballpark idea will do.  Doing this will save you time from editing and re-sending revised proposals later. It will also help the prospects to take ownership of those solutions because they feel they were part of the process.  For extra bonus points, use their words (not yours) in your proposal.  If they have a different jargon they use to describe something in their business, use their jargon if the meaning is similar to yours.  They will love your proposal because it sounds like they’ve written it themselves. 

5. THE NEXT STEPS.  This is a nice end to your sales meeting: the next steps…. the action plan… where to go from here.  Again, lead this step.  Don’t just promise a proposal to be sent.  Say something like: “OK, so the next step is that I will craft a proposal based on our discussion so that you can see the details of how we’ll work together. I’ll call you in 3 days or so to see if you have any questions. Is that OK?” Again, put in the question at the end.  Some of you have a different way to follow up.  You may do a survey, or sign a contract or something. I’ve just given you a generic template for what to say. Feel free to make up your own. The point is, be proactive and lead the follow up process. Tell them what you think will need to happen and end with “Is that OK?” just to keep them engaged.  

Marketing gets you leads, but leads don’t generate revenue!  Clients do.  Now, more than ever, business people need to make more returns from your marketing investment by getting higher sales conversions. Let’s stop wasting the money we spend in lead generation strategies.  I hope this has helped and if you want to sharpen your sales process and need customised advice to do so, book a discovery call and I’d be happy to jump on a call with you.

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