Author Truman Capote once said, "A conversationis a dialogue, not a monologue." These are great words of advice to remember in any selling situation. Here are five conversation practices that will help you establish more trust with prospects, and subsequently, increase your business.
1. Forget about the sale. Not for good, but you at least need to put the sale on the back burner of your mind so you can focus on really learning the needs and the values of your prospects. That's because closed deals are the by-product of effective, genuine conversation. Remember that you can't be certain that your product or solution is worth a hill of beans to prospects unless you've taken the time to know what it is they're looking for.
2. Ask don't argue. Don't underestimate the importance of asking the right questions. If all you do is chat about the weather and world news you won't learn anything about your prospects' needs. When you enter into a prospecting or selling dialogue, do so with a disciplined set of questions that you've planned ahead of time. But remain flexible. Ask specific questions that will help ensure your offering is a good fit.
3. Listen with your fingers. Whether you're on the phone or face-to-face with prospects, taking notes is the most efficient way to ensure that the information you're gathering sinks in. Not only that, if a prospect is aware that you are taking notes they will often see it as a sign of your genuine interest in what they have to say – and that you intend to use the information to help them.
4. Seek to understand. Verify what your prospects tell you. Make certain that you understand your prospects' needs and values precisely. Confirm the expectations they've shared with you. When prospects tell you that they need something, ask them why they need it that way. If you have any agenda in a prospecting situation, make it be to understand your prospects' needs and values as well as your own.
5. Listen again. When appropriate and with your prospects' approval, record your meetings. Explain to your prospects up front that the purpose of recording the meeting is to give yourself an opportunity to constantly improve your efforts to meet their needs as well as the needs of your existing clients. Explain to them that it is your desire (and it should be) to never neglect or overlook what they tell you in a meeting – and although you will be taking notes and listening intently, the recording is so that you can review what has been discussed in the meeting to ensure that your efforts are perfectly customized to their expectations. Not only will this practice be a gesture of your best intentions, it will prove to be a great teaching tool for self-improvement.