Following a sales process is key, but equally important is HOW we approach and carry ourselves through the sales process. This is why we keep returning to the topic of transparency and authenticity.
As we practice and refine our sales conversation skills, it’s important to remember that the sales conversation is not rigid. Unlike climbing ladder rungs, it is smooth and flexible, much like gliding down a gentle river. The sales conversation will flow naturally. You may make a couple stops along the way (like talking with your potential client about their New Year’s party, or congratulating them on a new member of their family (this is also called rapport building ;-) ).
But this flowing conversation will still be guided down the same path. It is an intentional process, filled with transparency and vulnerability.
So, let’s talk a little more about what transparency through the sales process looks like, before we dive deeper into each step of the sales process.
Transparency sets the stage. It helps potential clients feel comfortable. And prospects have to feel comfortable during the entire sales process in order to buy-in.
Selling is an emotional transaction. No matter how amazing the value is you have to offer, if your prospect doesn’t feel a sense of trust and personal connection (especially in high dollar sales), they are much less apt to say “yes.”
Helping potential clients feel comfortable in taking the leap is exactly what the sales process we talk about at the Proffit Coach is tailored for. And with that, we have to remember to maintain personal transparency.
Taking a genuine interest in clients’ needs.
Listen, listen, listen!
Being aware of client’s vulnerability.
Sharing our stories as they relate.
Letting go of our expectations
Let’s talk a little about each of these five steps.
Take a Genuine Interest in Your Prospects’ Needs
Showing a sincere interest starts by asking questions that are considerate, non-invasive, and still show you care about your prospects’ specific needs. Questions like:
“Tell me about your vision and goals for your business (or insert the area of life in which you serve your clients). What do you most want to achieve?”
“Why is it that this is important to you?”
“What do you hope to gain from working with someone?”
There are many ways to frame and ask these questions. We’ll talk more about this in the next post about client discovery.
Listen, Listen… and Listen Some More!
It may seem obvious, but after we ask a question, it is easy to start thinking about what we want to say next. So, pause, and be sure to listen with undivided attention. ;-) This is one of the single most important things we can do to set the stage for trust and transparency, and to help our potential clients feel safe to open up to us.
Here are some simple listening tips:
Quick self-check: Are you listening or thinking about what to say next? (Don’t worry—it’s a common human tendency, especially when we are nervous about making a sale—but I promise you, the more you listen with undivided attention, the more naturally the rest of your sales process will flow!)
Maintain open body language.
Make eye contact.
Give your prospect ample time to share before interjecting.
Whether you are on the phone or in person make sure that you are fully present. A glimpse into me...I personally love doing sales conversations via phone because I am able to close my eyes so I can really listen, tune out distractions and pay attention to what they are saying. Without feeling like a weirdo for closing my eyes and getting all zen :)
Be Aware of Your Prospects’ Vulnerability
Be sensitive when asking questions or affirming responses. Again, this can seem obvious, but when we are focused on a sales outcome, reminders to tune into clients’ concerns can be helpful. For example:
Express concern for challenging situations, such as a prospects’ recent divorce or loss of a loved one.
Congratulate your potential client for taking steps to explore how they can experience and create the success they want, by saying something like, “It’s so exciting that you are choosing to explore what options are available to you and taking action towards creating the career results you really want!”
Let your prospect know they can share as little or as much as they’d like, but that your goal is simply to help them and understand their goals as clearly as possible.
Let your potential client know that you’re interested in exploring whether or not the relationship would be a benefit to you both. This helps them know and feel you’re not just out to take their money, but instead, that you want to engage in something mutually beneficial. This also builds trust by letting your prospects know you have their best interest in mind.
Share Stories that Relate
During the value presentation step (along with all other steps) of the sales process, it is a great time to maintain transparency by sharing your own stories that relate. Throughout any sales conversation, there will be opportunities to maintain transparency by sharing your own stories that relate.
Because sales is both an art and a science, you'll need to tune in with your intuition to understand if your story makes sense to share during different times of the conversation.
For example, if you are a health coach and your client is struggling with a chronic issue, this is a perfect time to recognize all the energy they’ve spent trying to heal. Then, you might share how you healed a health issue using an approach you now offer to clients.
This boosts your credibility, demonstrates the effectiveness of what you do, AND helps your client see the genuine power of what they too, may be able to experience if you work together.
Plus, you’re being totally vulnerable and truthful through the process! No slimy-ness. Just heart-felt, meaningful connection! Pretty cool for “sales,” right?!
Let go of Expectations (Yes, Really ;-) )
This is probably one of the hardest things to do, especially when we know that hearing “yes” during the sales process is the fuel of our business. But, ironically, the more we can set those expectations on the sidelines during our conversations, the more often we experience greater success. Why? Because taking a break from expectations:
Allows us to be fully present, engaged and listening.
Helps the conversation feel more at ease (our clients can sense when we feel tense or nervous).
Prepares us to better celebrate when we do make a sale or handle a rejection more productively.
In review, here are some tips for staying transparent through sales conversations:
Listen, listen, listen!
Take a genuine interest in your clients’ needs.
Be aware of your prospects’ vulnerability,
Share stories as they relate.
Let go of expectations.
Next time, we will start talking more about each of the steps in the sales process.
For now, think about how you can practice having transparent conversations just in talking with friends, colleagues or family. Any conversation you have is an opportunity for connection. Not sure where to start? Connect with our community and join the conversation online. Or, learn more about taking sales from stressful to fun through training and coaching.
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