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Sales conversations but different

The fact that a good sales conversation is the basis for a successful proposal is not 'rocket science'. But what is a good sales conversation and how do you convince a prospect?

Sales conversations but different

To convince or not to convince?

Let's get straight to the point. When you're on your way to a customer or prospect, you've already thought about how and with what you're going to convince them. But here's the thing: customers and prospects don't actually want to be convinced. Nobody is waiting for smooth talk and well-thought-out techniques. A customer or prospect can see right through that. Moreover, trust quickly dwindles down to zero. Let's turn it around. If you notice that a salesperson is mainly focused on closing a deal, you become cautious at the very least, right? What customers and prospects really want is to be understood and discover your added value. To truly understand your customers, a different way of listening is an important requirement. A different way of listening, specifically commercial listening.

Commercial Listening

I came across this term in one of the books by Marc van Katwijk, coaching trainer and author. He describes commercial listening as follows:

"Commercial listening means thinking altruistically and being there for the customer. It involves creating opportunities by giving space to others and exploring how they perceive the situation. You listen to help a customer or prospect while simultaneously building a long-lasting, successful, relaxed, and above all equal partnership."

Commercial listening requires an open and curious mindset. This mindset determines how you listen, act, and ultimately also the outcome of your sales conversation. With an open and curious mindset, you listen better to your customer or prospect, understand them better, and have an eye for the opportunities that come your way.

An Open and Curious Mindset

Not everyone possesses such an open mindset. Your mindset is about your way of thinking and is formed by your upbringing and later experiences. As we get older, we become less open-minded. Due to negative experiences, we tend to stay within our comfort zone. This creates unhelpful patterns that hinder an open and curious mindset. You then see obstacles rather than new possibilities.

Let's start with a typical example of an unhelpful pattern that prevents you from understanding and successfully helping the customer or prospect. During a sales conversation, you keep rambling on. Your mind is filled with various thoughts, beliefs, and what-if scenarios. You desperately try to maintain control and avoid silence. In this case, everything you do or say revolves around avoiding rejection. It backfires, but you probably suspected or knew that already. The good news is that once you recognize your patterns, you can break them and reset your mindset.

Resetting your Mindset

If you're aware of the patterns that belong to you, then you can also recognize and break them. When you realize that you're rambling again, take 2 seconds to pause and set aside your knowledge and arguments for a moment. By letting go, you create space to listen attentively and understand the customer or prospect better. That's how you discover what they (actually) need.

Once you've set everything aside, it's time to ask open-ended questions. Find out how the customer or prospect sees the situation themselves. Learn about their concerns and expectations. Ignore any emerging thoughts and listen attentively and calmly. If the customer or prospect falls silent for a moment, give them the space to find the right words. That can be difficult at times. When a conversation stalls, it might make you insecure which could lead you back to old patterns. But you can always return to that open-minded, inquisitive attitude... practice makes perfect.

Sales Conversations with a Twist

Over time, you'll discover that you approach sales conversations with a different mindset. You know your added value and you know how to engage in relaxed and equal conversations with a customer or prospect. And you'll see the result in the success rate of your proposals and the long-lasting collaborations!

Gabriëlle de Sain

Gabriëlle de Sain

Thursday, June 6, 2024 - Sales


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