It’s easy to forget this when we have so many sales technologies and advanced sales strategies at our disposal, but sales is ultimately about having conversations with people. The most successful sales relationships often start with energetic, productive conversations between two people who are genuinely curious about how they can work together to help each other.
Some of the best sales conversations include one special moment that makes people step back and take notice, that changes people’s perspective, or that creates a startling moment of insight and clarity – this is what we call an “Ah ha!” moment. It’s that moment in a conversation when you suddenly develop a new understanding of the problem, and clear-headed way to focus on a solution.
An “Ah ha!” moment for one of your prospects might be the moment they realize that your solution has potential to improve their situation and solve their problem. Or it might be that moment where they say, “Hmmm…this sounds promising, but how long will it take to implement?” or “I’d like to hear more about this. Can you meet with me and my department heads?”
When you know how to read your prospects’ emotions and empathize with them, you can guide your conversation in the right direction. Creating “Ah ha!” moments is the best way to close more sales – because you’ve created a moment of clarity in the customer’s own mind, where they suddenly know that what you’re selling might make sense for them.
One of the tenets of selling that I believe in is that sales professionals should think like problem solvers. Helping your customers achieve an “Ah ha!” moment through your sales conversations is part of this process of solving problems, and it should be one of your goals for every sales call. It won’t happen every time, but if you use a few of these key principles, you can guide your prospects in the right direction.
Here are a few simple ways that you can create more “Ah ha!” moments for your customers in every sales conversation:
Ask compelling questions: There should be no “Yes/No” answers in a good sales conversation. Instead, ask open-ended, probing questions to help the customer open up and talk about their larger challenges and the bigger picture of where their organization is heading. This can give you more opportunities to “read between the lines” and ask follow-up questions to identify pain points. Prospects rarely come right out and tell you, “This is my pain point, this is what I need to fix.” Instead, you as the sales person need to empathize with them, listen to them, and ask questions that help build trust and get them to confide in you.
Go with the flow: The best sales conversations do not “stick to the script.” Yes, you need to have an organized sense of what you want to say on the call and which key points you want to make, and which questions you need to be ready to answer. However, great sales people never sound “scripted.” Great sales conversations are able to go in different directions depending on the flow of conversation and the specific interests and needs of the prospect. The best way to identify the customer’s pain points is to listen and be ready to adjust the conversation to the customer’s specific concerns. If you constantly re-direct prospects back to your “sales script,” or keep trying to focus their attention on what you’re selling, you’re going to lose them. Instead, stay focused on what they’re worried about – and how you can help resolve those concerns.
Build trust: We’ve all been recipients of bad cold calls and inept sales pitches. For that reason, prospects are naturally inclined to be distrustful. You need to quickly earn their trust by showing that you’re a legitimate professional and industry peer who is concerned about helping their business. Before you even get on the phone, do your research. Know something about the person you’re calling. Look them up on LinkedIn, show that you know their company and their industry and their products. If you can demonstrate to your prospects that you have a sincere and compelling reason for calling them today, they’ll want to keep talking.
“Ah ha!” moments don’t just happen by accident. They happen because smart, empathetic sales people know how to guide a conversation in the right direction and know how to anticipate the prospect’s needs, and listen to the prospect’s unique concerns. Once you know how to create “Ah ha!” sales conversations, you’ll be ready to start closing more deals.