Content originally taken from eBella Magazine, “The Secret of Street Talk” by Kelly Townsend.
Increase sales and boost client relationships by changing the conversation.
I recently worked with a client on the east coast of Florida who has been involved in his business community for years. He sat on several boards, volunteered on committees, and was recognized for his leadership and integrity. Yet, this involvement had not resulted in new business from connections made. I asked him, “How do you know your colleagues actually know what you offer?”
Business professionals understand the importance of building relationships when it comes to sales performance. But talk is cheap if it’s devoid of substance. The key to long-term business relationships lies in the quality of conversations that your team is having with customers and potential customers.
The conversations my client was having were not making the difference. It became clear, through our work together, that the business people he had known all these years misunderstood the services he actually offered. So he changed the conversation. He invited people with whom he was interested in doing business to lunch and shared his particular expertise.
At the same time, he learned more about these people—and listened to their needs. By the end of 2012, he had increased sales by 40 percent.
Distinguish Your Company’s Charter
In order to re-create the business owner’s intentions, salespeople must understand what the company is about in terms of values and strategic intent. Are your salespeople an effective extension of you? Do they understand what’s important to you and how to convey that? Are they a living demonstration of who you say the company is? I have found it useful to continuously engage in these conversations. When I work with salespeople, I ask them to recall challenging situations that resulted in success; we break down what happened in the interaction and learn from it. We also dissect challenging situations where they lost the sale. Every situation, no matter the outcome, can be a useful tool when it comes to the big picture—communicating and demonstrating the values of the company. This practice is crucial as far as keeping your company at the top of its game.
Often, salespeople realize that they default to some automatic conversation from the past. You could say they were asleep at the wheel. High performers never can be asleep at the wheel!
Distinguish What You Offer
Once your team is clear about the values of the company and how that message should be represented, it’s important to look at what your business actually offers. What value do you provide? If you are selling a product, what value does that product bring to the consumer? Is there an impact to consumers if they don’t have your product?
Discuss these scenarios with your salespeople—and then tie them to specific consumers. How does your product make a difference for that customer? Your team can create quality conversations by offering exactly what that prospect needs. You must be concerned with what is most important and valued by your consumer.
Who Is Your Customer?
This is an essential question when addressing the viability of a business model and brand. Your sales team mostly interacts with one or two people who make a final decision to buy your product. The quality of that interaction has everything to do with the conversations your salesperson has during that specific situation. This conversation is often driven by the concerns and thoughts of the salesperson; in other words, salespeople may be more worried about overcoming something, manipulating a situation or persuading the customer to do something rather than simply serving the client.
I have found this to be a useless background conversation in today’s market. Building long-term relationships is about having authentic conversations with people you are genuinely interested in serving—and then helping those clients to accomplish the goals most important to their success.
If salespeople are not clear about the foundation on which your company is built, the value of what your company offers and how they should be relating to the person across the table, then your hope for high performance will fall short.
Engage in the conversations I’ve suggested, and see how many doors begin to open. Long-term relationships and increased sales will be measures of your success.