If you want to get better at selling over the phone, face-to-face, or even through email, you need to acquire good conversation skills. Otherwise, you won’t last long as a salesperson.
Conversational skills are an art. You’re constantly sending subtle cues to your prospect – many that you’re likely not aware of. Small mistakes could mean the difference between coming off as an amateur or a professional.
That’s why it’s important to learn good conversation skills to help you build rapport, foster relationships, and ultimately make more sales. From small talk to in-depth discussions, social interactions are necessary for connecting with prospects, establishing trust, and forging lasting relationships.
Although there are many aspects to social skills, we’re going to give you five simple tips to help you improve your conversation skills and increase the number of deals you close.
1. Ask Open-Ended Questions
In order to sell, you need to understand your prospects’ wants and needs, and you need to understand why they’re important to them.
People buy with their emotions because they’re either trying to solve a burning problem or make their life better. And even though they may think logically about their different options, they think emotionally when they’re imagining how the purchase will make them feel.
And to understand those emotions, you need to ask good questions.
There are two main types of questions:
- Short-answer questions, like yes/no questions and those that require only one or two words.
- Open-ended questions, which require an explanation and don’t have a simple answer.
Short-answer questions are good for determining the direction of the conversation and figuring out what they want. For example, a conversation could go like this:
You: So, you want to make more sales?
Them: No, we’re happy with our sales process.
You: OK, so what are you looking to improve?
Them: We want to spend less on lead acquisition.
With those few short-answer questions, you know what they’re looking for. But now you need to dive deeper and figure out why. And using the right questions will do just that. For instance:
- Why do you think you need to drop your lead acquisition costs?
- How do you think you can do that?
- What do you think is causing the waste? How come?
Use open-ended questions to better understand your prospects, build rapport, and make more sales.
2. Listen and Relate
Once you get people to open up to you, it’s your job to listen and find common ground.
Don’t try to figure out what you’re going to say next while the other person is talking. Instead, pay better attention to your prospect and understand what they’re telling you.
Then, relate to them by seeing how you can weave in any similarities you have with them, like:
- You lived in the same city.
- You’ve eaten at the same restaurant.
- You went to the same college.
- You have similar interests.
You can also offer sincere compliments. Although insincere flattery works, there’s no substitute for honest appreciation. This is great for making them feel good and building rapport throughout your conversation.
Listening and relating to your prospects will help you build much stronger personal connections, and that will make them more willing to purchase from you.
3. Focus on the Prospect
It takes two people to have a good conversation, but a successful sales pitch will focus primarily on the prospect. There are two ways you can accomplish this.
First, get prospects to talk about themselves. Extensive research shows this activates the same pleasure centers in the brain associated with food, sex, and money. It makes them feel better and builds a stronger connection between you two.
And by getting them to talk about themselves, you’ll learn more about their dreams and problems so you can find ways to help them with your product.
But you can’t have the prospect talk about themselves the entire time. You need to do a lot of the talking too. So you want to find ways to talk about yourself and your products while focusing on the prospective customer.
You can try any of the following:
- Tell them stories of past customers you’ve helped who were in similar situations.
- Show them your understanding of their industry and the problems they face.
- Explain the details of your product and how it will benefit them.
Whether you’re talking about yourself, your company, or your products, you’re still focused on the potential customers. This keeps them engaged and interested, and more likely to buy from you.
By focusing the conversation on your prospect, they will feel better and more connected to you. You also learn more about them so you can tailor your sales pitch to their needs.
Keep your prospect in mind when you’re having a sales conversation and it’ll be much easier for you to close deals.
4. Don’t Forget About Non-Verbal Communication
Good communication skills require good non-verbal communication, even when you’re selling over the phone. Although they won’t see the cues you send, they’ll notice the differences in your voice’s tone, timbre, volume, and energy.
There are three major components of non-verbal communication that you should focus on:
- Smile. It lets the other person know that you’re enjoying the conversation and like them.
- Body language. Stand up straight with your shoulders slightly back. It makes you feel more confident and opens up your chest for rich vocal tones.
- Eye contact. This won’t matter on the phone, but in person, it’s a must. It shows that you’re actually listening and that you have nothing to hide. It helps build the relationship and breeds trust quickly.
The best way to get better with your non-verbal communication is to focus on one aspect at a time and to use it in every conversation you have. Before you talk to someone, remind yourself to smile frequently. When a conversation ends, consider what your body language was like.
Once you make good non-verbal communication a habit, you’ll notice a big improvement in all your social situations, including sales conversations.
5. Tell Stories
Stories make conversations come alive. They hook people and keep them engaged.
Our brains aren’t good at remembering facts, but they’re excellent at remembering stories. And when you tell a good story about the results a past customer achieved by using your services, they won’t be able to forget it.
If you want to improve your sales numbers, include stories in your sales pitches so potential clients can visualize what you do for people. Once they can see how much you help, they’ll be excited to sign the contract with you.
If you want to become an exceptional salesperson and be your best self, you need to have good conversational skills. There’s no way around it.
Do you have any tips to improve conversation skills, in general, or for sales? Share your favorite tip in the comments below…