How to Improve Your Sales Conversations

You have sales reps out in the field talking to prospects and clients every day.

This provides countless opportunities for them to say things that prevent rather than close sales. At the extreme, putting out the wrong messages could damage the reputation of your firm.

Here are the most common mistakes salespeople make during conversations, along with ways you and your team can avoid making them.

1. Talking too much.

The best sales representatives talk less than half the time during sales meetings. Doing this gives them more time to listen, which is why they’re successful. Hearing to the needs of prospects and responding to them is a proven way to seal more deals.

Did you know: Studies have shown that the more a rep talks during a meeting, the less likely they are to make a sale?

2. Bringing up the cost too soon.

Never discuss pricing too quickly in sales meetings. Prospects don’t have enough context or information to evaluate whether the dollar amount is fair. They will spend the rest of your time together focused on the number and not the value you offer.

Tip: Always establish value before talking price.

3. Discussing features rather than value

The surest way to turn off prospective customers is to explain how your products or services work, rather than how they will improve their lives or businesses.

Idea: Always spend more time discussing the value your products and services provide rather than features and functionality.

4. Using “bad” words.

Researchers have found that certain words and phrases are guaranteed to turn people off and kill sales. Some of the most common include:

  • Absolutely
  • Competitor or competition
  • Contract
  • Discount
  • Implementation
  • For example
  • Payment or payments
  • Perfect
  • Roadmap
  • We provide.

Tip: Cutting these terms from your vocabulary will ensure that you have more successful conversations.

5. Saying your company name

Repeating the name of your business too often during a sales call can be irritating to prospective clients. It seems artificial and self-serving.

Idea: Limit mentioning your firm’s name to three or four times during each meeting. Say it when it means something.

6. Talking like the people you’re talking to

Sales reps often adopt the speaking habits of the peopling they’re meeting with. For many, it’s a way to seek approval and bond.

The problem: Prospective customers always see through this technique and view it as needy, unattractive and condescending. Always be your genuine self during your sales conversations. Never adopt a different persona.

7. Forgetting what’s next

Many reps get so involved in their conversations, they don’t leave enough time to discuss and align on next steps. This is an important part of getting buy-in and ensuring a sale is real and the client won’t back out.

Tip: Always discuss and document next steps to ensure that you’ve really closed the deal.

8. Asking too many or too few questions

Asking questions is a critical part of understanding what issues a buyer is dealing with and their needs. It is critical to gather this information so you present solutions aligned with their expectations.

Beware: If you find yourself asking too many questions, it could be the sign of a problem. Your prospect may not have a real issue that needs solving and could just be fishing for information.

9. Questioning in an insincere way.

Do you use a checklist to get information from prospects? They will certainly see through this, knowing you’re not really engaging with them. It’s a sure way to turn off potential buyers.

Best practice: Don’t use a systematic approach to asking questions. Instead, take advantage of active listening. Insert questions throughout your conversations in a natural way. Avoid sounding scripted or less than completely involved.

10. Pitching

It’s a sales conversation, NOT a pitch. In today’s world of social media and easy access to information, prospective buyers don’t like feeling they’re being sold to.

Best practice: Take turns talking. It will feel more real and ensure your prospects are engaged.

11. Mentioning the competition at the wrong time

Of course, you have competitors. And you have to discuss them. Doing this too late in sales meetings will come across as defensive, not informative.

Tip: Address your competition sooner rather than later. Talk about what makes you better, then move on. It will help avoid having to discuss another company while you’re trying to close a deal.

12. Using the wrong collateral

Many reps use presentations, charts, graphs, and other exhibits to support their conversations. Some are successful. Others are not.

Best practice: Leverage a sales enablement system like Mobile Locker to ensure you’re always using the latest and best support materials. It also helps gather information about what’s working and what’s not so you can make improvements over time that will help optimize your materials and overall sales process. Most businesses find that a small investment in a sales enablement system pays off quickly in more sales.

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