How to Take Control in Sales Conversations
I'm in the middle of reading The Law of Success again andits lesson on decision really impressed me because mastering the power of making quick and definite decisions has really had a huge impact on my business and my life. What really stood out is how well the authorrelates to salespeople and the struggles we face with indecisive prospects when it comes to making decisions. To quote directly from The Law of Success:
Ask any well-informed salesman and he will tell you that indecision is the outstanding weakness of the majority of people. Every salesman is familiar with that time-worn alibi, “I will think it over,” which is the last trench-line of defense of those who have not the courage to say either yes or no.
I always kept that line in mind when dealing with a frustrating person who just can’tmake a decision. It's a great way to deal with the stress those people can bring you and reframe the situation.
I suspect that most of us have had that conversation with someone that goes something like:
"What do you want to do?"
"I don’t know...what do you want to do?"
"I’m fine with whatever you want."
"But what do YOU want?
"You make the decision."
"Help me decide!"
Aren’t they the worst? It’s a big show of indecisiveness. Neither person is taking the reins; however, both people are looking for the other one to do so.
This is somewhat like getting on the telephone with a prospective client and then waiting for the other to move the conversation forward. By now you know that you should be asking questions. Lots of questions. At some point, you’re going to have to transition out of question asking and into the meat and potatoes of what comes next: show me the money! If you’re not practiced at this, YOU WILL FIND THIS TO BE VERY DIFFICULT. You know you need to get to the bones of the conversation—hiring you—but you don’t want to sound overly eager, pushy, and only interested in one thing. So instead, you end up on these long, drawn out telephone calls hearing a client’s life story, because you don’t know how to guide the conversation to the next phase.
Although we want the client to talk, we don’t want them to wander off into a garden of irrelevant tangents, which they will do if permitted.
This comes down to having the correct language tools. When you have the right words, everything becomes easier. And when you begin to practice it, you’ll feel more at ease also. Most of the time, you’ll find yourself stuttering, overthinking it, swiping through your mental log of things you could possibly say to get to the point. "Sooooooooo, about that, er-um money?" But if you memorize the following transition, you’ll never have to worry about this again. Anytime you’re ready to start talking business, you can use this to guide the client to the next phase of the conversation.
"That’s so helpful—thanks so much. I’m sure I’ll have more questions as we go, but let’s switch gearsfor now.I’d like to tell you a little bit about the way I work, what you can expect, and what the process looks like."
There is so much value in this sentence. It’s a useful transition but, more than that, it sets the tone. There is a distinction between adviser and freelancer. A freelancer might wait for the client to dictate their demands, but an adviser is going to stand up and inform how things goes down. Huge shift in posture. Huge different this makes. The language you choose shapes the way your client views you, and being able to guide the conversation in a way that feels authoritative and in-control is one of the best things you can learn for your career. Remember: your client wants you to stand up and lead. They want you to be the expert. They want to feel safe in your hands. And by using language that demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about and you totally got this. They’ll believe that you do. And their belief in you is the most important first step in any sales conversation.
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