The Sales Conversation Trap

According to research from Forrester, 85% of executives say that they are disappointed with the meetings they have with sales people – even if they had been looking forward to the encounter.

More alarming still, only 7% agree to follow up conversations… (I’ll let you fill in the blanks of what that means to your business).

Most executives feel that their time has been wasted. That’s because sales people don’t usually get around to discovering and then creating customer value. Here’s why they don’t.

In my experience of interacting with thousands of sales people, consultants and sales engineers (I shall refer to them collectively as sellers) at large and small companies – lack of customer value creation is caused by the absence of a critical conversation or communication skill

…the ability to artfully transition a sales conversation away from a version of the “OK, tell me what it is you do” trap.

This ‘conversation trap’ is usually executed unwittingly by both client and seller and unfortunately causes sellers to get stuck responding to a series of the client’s questions and advocating about your company, product, services or solutions too early (or all about “you”) – without finding out what’s important to the client. And then time’s up!

Proficient sellers know about the conversation trap and how to balance advocacy with effective and insightful inquiry and when to transition the conversation. This awareness gives them the ability to structure the conversation in a way that will create value for the client – blending advocacy, insights and inquiry throughout the conversation.

Mastering this conversation transition skill helps the client feel that their needs, wants or unformed thoughts have been heard, clarified, prioritized and understood. This is a key skill to motivate change from the status quo (after all, who better to convince the client of the need to change than themselves?). It’s sales person as business coach and trusted advisor and the difference in client interactions is profound.

By focusing on this one communication or conversation skills gap and executing the transition effectively, clients have shared that this skill is a highly predictive and influenceable lead behaviour that can increase individual revenue contribution significantly.

So, if your sellers are falling into the conversation trap and talking about your product or service too early, leaving disappointing executives in their wake and failing to get that second meeting – focus on developing their transition skill. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes!