How do you start, sustain, and close a sales conversation so that everyone feels good about it—and you know whether or not people will buy?
Many of the popular roadmaps for this conversation are based on trapping or manipulating potential buyers into saying “Yes,” which is why so many service-oriented sellers reject them.
THE 10-TOUCHSTONE SALES CONVERSATION
When I developed the Soul of Selling method, I wanted a set of touchstones to include in each sales conversation that kept me on track to:
- Honor, respect, and appreciate each person with whom I spoke
- Talk in an inspiring way about what I was offering
- Hear what people needed to say before they bought
- Close the sale in a way that made us both feel like winners
After a couple years and hundreds of conversations, I honed it down to these ten touchstones:
1. See people’s value. Don’t wait for people to prove their value to you. Instead, define the speciﬁc valuable qualities that you are willing to see in them, regardless of what they say or do. These might include intelligence, vision, openness, diligence, or wanting to help people. As you talk with them, call up these values intentionally and let them live in you.
2. Make this value the foundation of your conversation, whether or not they buy. Even as they voice their concerns, and even if they say “No,” continue to appreciate them. If you catch yourself not relating to them with respect and honor, just go back and do so.
3. Connect with the person. Before you start talking, create a connection with the other person. There are many ways to do this: genuine warmth, humor, some small thing you say, or even an appreciative silence. You know when you’re connected with people, and when you’re just talking to them.
4. Share your vision. This is where you use your Speaking Bank (Soul of Selling Step #3), weaving together your talking points and delivering them in a way that the other person can hear. This is not so much a speech as it is a conversation about the features and beneﬁts of what you are offering, conducted in the context of your relationship with them. It is delivered out of your passion, whether that is quiet or effusive, and all your attention is on the other person.
5. Find out the value to them. People need to know exactly what they want from what you are offering, and so do you—because this is where you will return after you’ve heard their objections. If they can’t decide whether or not to buy, they can simply put this value on one side of the scale, and what it will cost them on the other.
6. Invite them to participate. At some point, you have to pop the question. You have to take the risk and say some form of, “Would you like to buy this?” Some sellers ﬁnd this the most uncomfortable moment in the conversation, but most buyers do not. People expect to be asked whether or not they want to buy. In many cases, they’re waiting for it, ﬁguratively tapping their feet so that the conversation can move forward. One reason sellers sometimes dread this moment is that they might hear “No.” That’s just part of selling. If the answer is “No,” then you know where you are and can move on. The trick is not to take it personally. You may also hear “Yes.”
7. Hear their objections without getting hooked. Popping the question usually brings up any objections that people may have. You’ll hear all the reasons why they can’t or shouldn’t buy—even if they have every intention of buying! “Well, I’d love to buy this but I don’t have the money.” “I’d love to do that, but I just don’t have the time.” People often feel compelled to say they don’t have the time or the money, even when both of you know they’re going to buy. Sometimes it is their way of saying to you (or to themselves) that they aren’t spendthrifts or time-wasters. Your job is to hear them out, and to honor their need to say it—but not to get hooked and collude with them about their limitations. Have compassion, and help them make a good choice.
8. Take them back to the value. After they’ve had a chance to air their objections, lead them gently back to what they would want from your product or service if they were to buy it. The Soul of Selling offers some very gracious ways to do this, and shows you how to handle circumstances under which it’s better to talk later.
9. Close the sale. In this part of the conversation, you come to “Yes” or “No.” After the close, you both know whether or not they are going to buy. Again, The Soul of Selling offers many ways to close graciously.
10. Validate their choice, even if it’s not to participate with you. Let them know that you honor their choice, whatever it is. Stay in relationship with them, and let them walk away feeling better about themselves than they did before the conversation—regardless of what they choose. If they buy, let them know what the next step is or what your next contact will be.
WHAT YOU GET
At the end of this conversation, you both feel great. You know whether or not they’re going to buy, and so do they. You’ve honored them, yourself, your product or service and the process of selling. Very quickly, this conversation will become second nature, and one of the joys of your life.
This conversation is the foundation of the Soul of Selling. We will go over each of the ten touchstones in upcoming posts.