Ask any sales leader or sales rep out there what is the hardest part of the sales cycle, and they’ll probably mention starting sales conversations.
Our recent survey shows that 69% of sellers think that getting the first conversation is harder than presenting a solution or even closing the deal.
The fact is that without the first conversation, nothing else happens.
What is a Sales Conversation?
A sales conversation is simply a conversation between a potential buyer and a seller that has the objective of leading the prospect to purchase a product or service down the line.
Simple, right? But how much thought do you actually put into how your sellers start a conversation with a prospective client? Do they research the prospective client before reaching out to them? Or do they just wing the conversation?
Do you train your team and share conversation starters that work with them?
Your sales team must be equipped with a sales strategy that prepares them step-by-step for daily prospecting activities. Part of this method should include how to start more effective sales conversations. Whether your company uses cold calling techniques or social selling strategies, they need to be well prepared to conduct sales conversations in a remote selling environment, where they also need to learn how to use remote selling tools.
You don’t only want a sales team that can call or email hundreds of potential clients a day. You want to train your sellers to find, engage, and connect with prospects.
This article will discuss different conversation starters and social selling strategies. Your team can put these in place to start more sales conversations and convert those prospects into buyers.
How to Start a Sales Conversation
How you start the sales conversation is important, whether it’s a cold call, an email or LinkedIn message, or a sales video. Potential buyers will decide whether they want to continue reading or listening to you in a matter of seconds.
A sales conversation should never start with a sales pitch. We’ve all received those annoying pitches right off the bat when we accept a new connection on LinkedIn. The fact is, most of us would ignore or delete those messages right away.
Reciting a rehearsed script of the product you are selling with a generic call to action is no longer effective. All you are achieving with this approach is overwhelming the buyer and demanding a commitment, neither of which are positive strategies to secure a new client and sale.
Sellers need to make a real connection with their buyers. They need to prove that they intend to bring solutions to problems and challenges that the prospect is experiencing, and not just interested in pushing a sale.
But how can you achieve this in a sales conversation? You are already limited with time and need to grab the attention of the prospect immediately. How do you also focus on making a connection?
Easy. You just need to use the PVC sales methodology and include Personalization, Value, and a relevant Call-to-action. Watch this video to learn how to implement the PVC method in your sales messaging.
Examples of Good Sales Conversation Starters
Using the PVC sales methodology described above is a great way to start sales conversations, no matter the medium your sellers are using.
In fact, we recommend you engage in omnichannel prospecting and teach your sellers to seek conversations through social media, text messages, and videos –not just the phone.
Although we don’t advocate for cold calling at Vengreso, but prefer to use the phone later in the sales cadence, some companies still rely on the phone as a primary means of outreach. If this is your case, make sure your reps’ cold calling scripts are highly personalized to the individual or the buyer persona.
Check out this video for some great tips on cold calling from Joe Pici:
Now, let’s look at some examples of good sales conversation starters and why they work.
1. “I have done some initial research and noticed that your company…”
This conversation starter establishes that the sellers made an effort to read about the customer’s company.
They are already showing the prospect that their message will help them somehow and is not just another rehearsed sales pitch that they’ve already given to multiple companies that day.
In our Modern Sales Mastery training, we teach the 3×3 technique, which consists of finding 3 things in 3 minutes about a prospect by looking at their LinkedIn profile. Those three things can then be used to personalize the sales message.
For some expert tips on how every salesperson should approach their ideal prospect and how to use personalization and storytelling to create sales engagement, I recommend you listen to this podcast with Ed Calnan, co-founder and CRO of Seismic.
2. “Can you tell me about some of your company’s plans for the year?”
Once again, you start by showing an interest in the company and are not just rushing to push a sale. This is also a broad question, which opens up the conversation and gives you a chance to get more valuable information that might help drive your value proposition. Once the customer opens up about their needs and problems they are facing, you have an opportunity to introduce your product or service as the solution.
3. “We have worked with similar companies in your industry and they experienced the following problems (list the problems). Have you experienced something similar?”
This opener establishes some credibility. It also shows the potential customer that you are knowledgeable about their field and some of the experiences they may be facing. This open-ended question will also lead them to consider if they are experiencing similar problems and how you can help resolve them.There's no shortcut to success, but there's an easy way to start a sales conversation so your #sales team can be successful. @KurtShaver shares the #strategy their own #sellers at Vengreso use in this article. Don't miss it! Click To Tweet
Importance of Sales Conversations in Social Selling
Social selling is about starting more sales conversations and expanding existing relationships. Salespeople can use social media platforms to find, engage and connect with prospects to turn those connections into sales conversations.
Don’t just send your generic sales pitch to the potential customer through a LinkedIn connection request. Do some research before making contact and proceeding with social selling strategies.
Start the conversation by making contact through following and liking the prospect’s LinkedIn profile and make sure that you interact with some of their posts.
The best way to interact is by leaving a comment on a post or blog. Make sure that your comment is personalized and offers value, and isn’t a generic ‘good post’ kind of comment.
During your research of the company’s social media, you may even encounter some issues they are facing. This can in turn open the door for you to reach out and establish a conversation.
Tips for Improving Sales Conversations
As the sales manager, you want to ensure that your sales team is using effective strategies. Let’s look at some tips to start improving the conversation from the moment you contact the prospective buyer. Whether you use social selling or more traditional strategies, these tips will still be beneficial.
Prepare for the Conversation
A secret that all sales professionals know is to do some research on the company you will be approaching. After all, they will have to convince the prospect why they need to buy their product/service. And the best way to do this is by convincing them that your product will provide value to them.
Ensure that your sellers also research the potential B2B buyer’s market and identify pain points they may have. This will help them target areas where your product or service can provide value to them.
Sellers can use various sources for research when looking into new potential customers, like at the company’s website and their social media platforms.
Don’t underestimate the power of small talk. Before delivering the pitch during the conversation, sellers should first build rapport with the customer. Studies have shown that B2B buyers will rather support a sales rep that they know and like. Because of this, reps must remain friendly and upbeat during the conversation, paying attention to the buyer while they talk and respond with their own experiences or insights.
Building rapport with a potential buyer means that once they have committed to a purchase, the chances are they will be more likely to return to your sellers for future purchases as there is already a relationship established.
Clarify the Impact
Before a customer even considers a product or service, a seller has to clarify the value it will bring to their company. Even if the salesperson has done some research and established a great rapport with the customer, if they cannot see what value you can bring to their business, the deal will not close.
It should be clear to the client what you’re selling and how it will impact and improve their own business. Don’t expect the client to ask many questions about what the product is and how it will benefit them. Your sellers need to introduce them clearly and confidently.
Use Questions to Keep Buyer Interest
Sellers should not be afraid to ask questions during the conversation or even start the discussion with a question. It is important that the customer feels that their thoughts and opinions also have value. Not only that, but it is also a great way to get more information from potential buyers so that your sellers can further establish a connection and rapport. Open-ended questions work particularly well in engaging a prospect when used correctly.
But they shouldn’t ask too many questions. There is a fine line between an engaging conversation and an interrogation. Coach sellers to ask enough questions to get the information they need to get to a natural point for them to deliver their pitch.
How to Lead Effective Sales Conversations
Sales Managers and sales leaders should provide sufficient training and upskilling opportunities for the sales reps to ensure effective sales conversations.
Many conversations fail because the seller talks too much and doesn’t give the prospect a chance to communicate their needs and desires. Other discussions fail because the seller talks too little and depends on the customer to keep the conversation going without adding value and expertise to the pitch.
Effective sales conversations identify problems in the marketplace and engage their clients with these problems. The customer needs to open up about issues they may be perceiving so the seller can present the solution effectively.
Remember, during a conversation, it’s not about the seller; it’s not even about the product or service; it’s all about the customer. Customer success forms a critical part of leading effective sales conversations. Without these different skills, your sales activity will be less than desirable.
Also, ensure that your sales reps have various forms of media types available when they reach out to customers, especially for social sellers. Research has shown a 400% increase in contact rates when sales reps have more media types. These can be introductory videos, brochures, and live chat options so that the customers can get more information quickly and decide to buy.How to Start More Sales Conversations Click To Tweet
Creating sales conversations requires the right mindset and the right execution. Mario Martinez Jr., Vengreso’s CEO and Founder, explains this two-important elements in this episode of the Modern Selling Podcast.
How Sales Conversations Increase Revenue
The sales team is at the forefront of generating revenue. It’s the force that actively looks for and interacts with potential buyers. Sales conversations form a critical part of the sales department, and when properly utilized, can have a massive, positive effect on a company’s revenue. The same can be said when these conversations are used incorrectly and can result in a loss of revenue.
Leading effective sales conversations that are buyer-centric will increase the conversions and build rapport and the possibility of a returning customer. Implementing a few of the tips mentioned above into your strategy will show an increase in conversions and therefore more revenue.
Are you Ready to Start More Sales Conversations?
This article outlines the importance of having an effective sales strategy in place that focuses on successful sales conversations. Whether you reach out to customers in person, over the phone, or on social media, you need to make sure that you have prepared for the conversation. If you keep the customer in mind, ask relevant questions, and offer valuable solutions to their problems, you will be sure to have much more success in modern sales.
Teaching your team the art of effective sales conversations and social selling techniques will be immensely beneficial to the growth of the company and an increase in revenue.
One of those techniques is using video for sales. Second only to being face-to-face with a person, video is the best way to humanize communication in the sales process.
Learn more about our selling with video for teams training (part of the Modern Sales Mastery Program) by clicking on the image below. Our virtual sales training program teaches sellers the skills and confidence to create engaging videos to start more sales conversations.