Years ago, I was asked to facilitate a sales training in-service for a flagship car dealership. The sales manager was generous enough to provide me with their current “sales training” manual (created by the dealership). I remember being fascinated with the “sales script” section. The very idea that there was a conversation script was fascinating to me… and to be honest, when I read over what the sales reps were trained to say to their prospects, I cringed. It all seemed so artificial, so canned, so very awkward.
Many years have passed, and now I regularly see advertisements across my social media feed for the “perfect conversation openers” or “ready-made sales scripts.” It no longer surprises me. The sales conversation is likely the most important conversation you will have with your prospective client. It is also one of the most challenging skills to master. In this post, I will outline the steps you need to take to NAIL the sales conversation. You are going to want a notebook nearby because I am going to ask for audience participation! Trust me, if you implement these 7 steps, you will maximize your sales (you’re going to want to take notes!). Let’s jump in!
It’s time to get uncomfortable and point out a painful sales conversation stumbling block: virtual relationships. Now I admit that 2020/2021 has encouraged us to pivot in the way we communicate. We have learned to either embrace the idea of virtual relationship building, or we have stepped away from creating conversation at all. We have moved from in-person to zoom, from voice mails to texting from voice calls to messenger. We have found convenience in technology and begun to lose connection.
I’m going to start off by saying something somewhat controversial here: The phone is your friend. Your VOICE matters. And in the last 18 months ~ connection matters. We do this by talking. Some people have an aversion against the phone; they feel more comfortable texting or messaging. Let’s take a moment and think about this. Why do we prefer to text? It’s because it is less personal; the sting of possible rejection is much less. The truth is that a sales conversation IS personal. And to do it well effectively, we need connection. Our handshakes might have been hampered this last year, but our voices still have reach. I want to remind you, if you are meant to serve (which you are), then people are your thing, and you have to engage in conversations with people to transform them.
Pick up the phone!
Here is the thing, your desire to serve should outweigh your fears and false beliefs about your power to help others. The actions that I propose in this step will help you overcome your limiting beliefs.
If you want to see results, you have to take action. Until you are unafraid of asking for money for what you do and receiving it at the highest level. You will never be who you came here to be. I want to remind you that your worth is immeasurable; it is not questionable. Your product or service holds value. Believe this!!! Sales are all about beliefs. If you’re not sold on what you have to offer, you cannot sell to anyone else.
I am not going to provide you with a canned script. Nor am I going to give you the “top 10 closers” (although as I write this.. that might just be a new blog idea!)
This is where it gets interesting. I’m going to ask you to practice ~ Start with small steps, not overwhelming yourself with tons of sales conversations initially. Make a commitment about how many calls you are going to make, and start practicing! (Pro tip: make a list of 5 people that you can practice with and reach out to them with an available schedule to talk ~ that alone is practice!)
Practice the areas that you have difficulty with as often as you need until you feel you have it nailed and your block is gone. When you are in a sales conversation, ask yourself: “What’s the lesson I’m learning right now?” and remember your business is not made or broken if one person decides to buy from you or not; take the pressure off. You are operating from a place of service and integrity. You do not have to be perfect. Your only job is to take action. Action over perfection is the formula for maximum sales results (with happy, loyal customers that really become your friends).
Consistency is key here. Do your best consistently, practice, keep learning and let go of the results. I highly recommend finding someone to practice with you. However, if you can’t find someone to role play with, just go ahead and practice in front of the mirror (or if you are like me, out loud in the shower), the point is to just practice!
Here are the key things about practice:
1. Face your fears.
What is your biggest fear of what can happen in a sales conversation? Once you identify your biggest fear, do what scares you repeatedly in your sales conversations, this will help you get past the fear. Try different things if you are expecting different results. For instance, one of my biggest fears when I approach a cold call is that I will be bothering them. So I face my fear in my practice. It goes something like this, “Hi there, this is Rae-Leigh.. I would love to chat with you about…” and my fear kicks in, and in my imagination, my prospect says, “Not interested.” YIKES! My ego kicks in, and I begin to create my “fear story.” They don’t want to hear from me… I am bothering them.. they aren’t interested (cue: rabbit hole). How can I practice this conversation until my fear subsides? I anticipate different results ~ and I practice predicting different outcomes. “Hi there, this is Rae-Leigh.. am I speaking with <decision-maker>? Hi <decision-maker> is this a good time to chat?”
Phew! Right there, I blew past my fear of “bothering them” as I have practiced my way out of this. Then I take it a step farther and practice what happens next… “No? Not a good time? I totally get it; when would be a better time for me to call you? I’m available at 3:00 or 4:30? “(Look at that! I just booked an appt.) Or… “Now is ok? Awesome! Thank you for taking my call… <continue sales conversation…>.
Ok, here’s a tip: When you practice with your “person,” ~ don’t chat. Focus on practicing. You can even switch your role and act as a buyer, asking the person whom you’re practicing with to try to sell you, even if they are not in sales (although everyone is in sales.. they just might not know it ~ hey look another blog idea! ). Reversing rolls will give you different insights. Again, if you don’t have a role-play partner, reverse rolls with yourself. You’ll quickly learn to practice conversations and have them ready to authentically happen in no time ~ just with practice.
Be honest with yourself and look at overcoming your weakness. Practice what you see as your biggest challenge and what you feel is your biggest weakness; this is the only way to get better and be present in your sales conversations. People can feel your self-doubt, so practice until you overcome it.
Final practice tip:
Go over the top! I mean, really have fun with this! Say what you never thought you would dare to say. Play! Ask yourself… if I were brave….. If I totally believed in my value….. If I had no problem asking for cash…. How would I behave differently?
KNOW your buyer (I know I’ve nagged on this topic before, but it really is key). Do you know who your avatar is? There are different types of buyers. You can answer some of the needs, and it might be more challenging for you for others.
Remember, this conversation is coming from a place of service, so if you have a moment when you don’t know the best way to help a client, write it down, and tell them you will get back to them. You don’t need to have all the answers, but you must be willing to provide them if you genuinely want to serve.
After every sales conversation, ask yourself these two questions:
1. What did I do well?
If you’re not improving, something is off, and you need to take action, so you keep growing, and the process keeps being fun for you and your results improve.
2. What do I need to improve?
What will I implement for my next sales conversations? Be mindful of the patterns that show up. This will help you stay motivated and consistently grow. If you can nail this and objectively look at your sales process, it will improve your experience because people will never buy if you are not sold on you.
Remember, sales are cyclical. Sometimes you will sell a lot, other times not so much, it’s a statistic. Do you have beliefs that sabotage your success? Ask yourself what judgment you make about yourself when you get off a call and don’t sell?
How you judge yourself (your limiting beliefs) will predict your sales income. Once you are clear on your limiting belief, you must create practices that support you prior to your sales conversations that get you into a space of possibility. You are preparing to change someone’s life!
Think about what raises your energy before you begin and gets you really present? I have been known to put on lipstick and blast my favorite dance (read: 80’s playlist) before getting on a call ~ it lifts my mood and gives me a boost of confidence and adrenaline before dialing. Do you know where you are coming from? What space are you in? Get curious about your patterns of action when you sell well. Be aware of patterns of action that you have when perhaps you haven’t delivered the way you had hoped.
Be mindful of the actions that serve you. Watch out for patterns for when you are selling well and re-create them for future sales conversations. Momentum builds confidence. When you nail a call (and have that fantastic rush of post-sale adrenaline), keep going! Nothing builds on a great call better than the foundation of a previous great call!
How will you handle disappointment if the results of your sales conversation are not what you expected? What I have found more powerful in this regard has been creating a song and dancing when someone didn’t buy. It is often easier to let disappointment bring us down. But when we learn to celebrate that the people who are not a fit to work with us are not our clients, we make space to welcome those who are.
You need to turn things around, especially if you have a lot of sales conversations lined up. The best sales come when you are least expecting them, so you have to have your energy up all the time and be ready. Don’t take people’s decisions personally and move on to the next person you can serve. They want to see where you are and what’s possible for them before purchasing. If they don’t decide to step up for themselves, it’s not about you; it’s about them.
This is what I’ve learned over decades of sales and observing people. I consider these to be the laws of a sale.
1. When the salesperson is ready, the leads appear. Be in the mindset, practice the conversation, imagine your offer, and have it ready. Create the outcome. When you are ready ~ they will come!
2. Record yourself in a sales conversation, and transcribe it. If you don’t know what you’re doing in sales, you can’t improve (or train others). I would love to take credit for this law, but the truth is I learned it as a young girl. My father had a pocket recorder, and when I was about 13 years old, he challenged me to record myself selling fruit from our family farm. At the end of the day, we would listen to my “sales conversation.” He would playback the recordings and then pause the mini-recorder at a key point in the conversation. Gently he would ask me, “what could have you said there? Or “what did you hear her saying?” Or “did you offer her to try a fresh peach… “In listening, we learn. I still record myself on sales calls, and I can assure you there is no better teacher in learning to nail your sales conversation than yourself.
3. One of my sales mentors, Art Jonak, reminds me time and time again that the first step in sales is simply “don’t change. be yourself”. And he is absolutely correct! Be yourself, keep your energy upbeat and sell in short, concentrated bursts; you will sell better. Be consistent. You’ve got this.