My 6 year old son asks me this question at least 10 times a day—and his endless curiosity has led me to believe that sales people win when they use the same elementary approach to closing deals.
So take out your pencils and jot down some notes—here are 3 communication strategies for becoming a better sales rep:
1. The more a rep talks, the less prospects buy.
Like a classroom, more sales leaders ought to raise their hand before speaking. So channel your inner 6 year old and be genuinely curious about your prospects’ processes, market and challenges. By asking Why, What, and How, you’ll get your customer talking and become a real problem solver.
According to business expert Tim Sanders, former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo!, sales reps sell more by reducing their word count:
I had one of my researchers split the conversations into word counts – measuring what we said versus what the prospects said. A pattern emerged: When the prospect talked more than a third of the meeting, they were significantly more likely to buy, escalate their interest to a senior level or agree to the next meeting to move forward. When they talked less than twenty percent, they were significantly less likely to buy or, for that matter, take another high level meeting with us. (“Reduce your word count and win the deal.”)
Think before you speak. Listen more, and allow the prospect direct the conversation. Let curiosity be your guide. Raise your hand more, and you may close more deals.
2. Learn how to read.
Just like elementary kids don’t learn to read until the 1st grade, sales professionals don’t learn to read unless they have the right tools. And I don’t mean books.
Reading a prospect’s non-verbal cues and being able to watch how they react to your pitch is key for closing deals. But it’s difficult and downright impossible to do this over the phone or via email.
That’s why online meetings are a critical tool for sales reps. You and your reps need the right virtual communication technology to be able to crack a prospect’s code efficiently and without any issues. Otherwise, you may never be able to read into a client’s needs or offer up the right solutions.
3. Do your homework.
The hardest thing about B2B selling today, says the Harvard Business Review, is that customers don’t need you the way they used to. Reps with traditional selling approaches will lose, because buyers make nearly 60% of their purchasing decision before they talk to you.
Today, reps must engage customers early in the cycle—well before customers fully understand their own needs. They must be agile and faster than the competition.
And the best way to gain that momentum is to do your homework. Gather initial social information. Look at online buyer behavior—what has your prospect downloaded? Tweeted? What problems have prospects and customer had in similar industries and companies—and how can you help your prospect identify problems before they hit the fan.
In thinking about all these similarities, a quote from Craig Wortmann comes to mind. He writes:
One of the things that makes me feel better is that the great leaders I’ve been studying seem to have great fear or great curiosity – and often both – that drives them to continue to learn and strive and try and fail and succeed… What matters is that you take action on whatever drives you.
Here’s to endless curiosity.