Conversational Sales Calls: How to Build Relationships with Prospects That Pay Off
May 24, 2018
The New ABCs of Selling: Always Be Conversing
What do children and salespeople have in common? They learn their ABCs during their “formative” years. For salespeople, ABC has long stood for “Always Be Closing,” a mantra commonly used to teach new reps that everything they say and do in the course of a sales pitch should be done with one goal in mind: close the deal.
But today’s buyers don’t fall for the same tired old sales pitches. Access to information has emboldened buyers with a new level of purchasing control that puts them square in the driver’s seat. Today’s buyers are about connections, not solicitations—conversations, not sales pitches. Of course, there are also benefits to shifting away from the “Always Be Closing” mindset and focusing instead on having real conversations with people about the critical business issues they face.
Benefits of Conversational Selling
Discover pain points, challenges, obstacles and opportunities
The traditional sales mindset has been “always deliver a strong sales pitch.” Of course, you want to present yourself and your solution in the best light, but your central objective should be to learn more about the potential customer with whom you are speaking. Asking questions will help you discover the challenges they face in their job, the problems they want solved and any objections they may have about a solution like yours. A natural, two-way conversation will also reveal opportunities to talk about yourself, your company and/or your solution without sounding like you’ve just been waiting for the opportunity to get in the sales pitch.
Sell your solution without being “salesly”
When you use traditional sales language, prospects can’t help but think about the traditional salesperson stereotype, making it much harder to connect with them from a position of trust. And if you can’t establish trust, it becomes much harder to make a prospect believe that your solution is the right fit for them. Shifting your mindset away from “Always Be Closing” will also help alleviate some of the pressure of the discovery call, for both you and the prospect, by giving up the hidden agenda of hoping to make a sale. By simply focusing your conversation on the critical business issue a potential customer is having and how you can help solve them instead of pushing to close the sale, you will find that prospects will actually bring you into their buying process.
Build relationships that may mature in the future
There’s a reason 95 percent of top-performing salespeople claim their sales style is “relationship-oriented” rather than “transaction-based.” Establishing rapport takes time, but the potential return on investment is more than enough to make it worthwhile. For example, if a prospect isn’t quite ready to make a purchase when you first engage with them, establishing a relationship with that person will make it easier to follow-up in a way that feels more organic. And if your solution isn’t the right fit after all, building rapport can still benefit you in the end—as a result of your friendly conversations, the one-time prospect may be willing to help by referring someone who may be interested in what you have to offer.
Conversation vs Interrogation: Anatomy of a Winning Discovery Call
What does a good sales conversation sound like? B2B sales conversation intelligence platform Gong.io analyzed more than half a million discovery call recordings to learn what separates the most successful salespeople. Among the findings, Gong.io discovered that the more times you “take turns” while talking with a prospect, the higher your likelihood of success. In other words, the more back-and-forth the dialogue, the better your odds.
According to the analysis, top sellers have discovery calls that feel more like a casual chat than a light-in-the-eyes interrogation. They spread their questions throughout the entire conversation in a balanced, natural way instead of making it sound like they’re going through a checklist at the beginning of the call. One way this is expressed is the “talk-to-listen” ratio:
- Top Performing Reps – 46:54
- Average Reps – 68:32
- Bottom Performing Reps – 72:28
As you can see, top performing reps have a more balanced conversation on discovery calls, even allowing prospects to do more of the talking. Compare this with the talk/listen ratios of average and low-performing salespeople. This is easy to understand intellectually, and yet in practice most salespeople just can’t seem to help themselves from dominating, not only the discovery call, but most sales calls.
Quality Leads and Sales Intelligence from Intelemark
In any customer-facing situation, you can generally expect a positive response if you have a genuine conversation in which you explore the customer’s needs and how your solution addresses their specific challenges and pain points. Intelemark’s B2B calling agents are among the best in the appointment setting and lead generation industry because they take time to understand your company and your offering before reaching out to potential clients. And when we do make contact, our agents are trained to ask questions to uncover critical data about your target audience.
Learn how Intelemark can fill your sales pipeline with quality leads and provide your reps with information about the decision-makers who are anxious to speak with them.