3 Communication Mistakes That Are Sabotaging Your Sales Meetings
If you’re committing these 3 common errors, you may be stopping clients from buying from you
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Ever have a meeting with a “hot prospect”…that wasn’t as hot as you thought once you started talking?
Or a sales discussion which you thought went well…but then you never heard from the prospect again? Derp!*
Or you’re talking about the wonders of your product…and the prospect is constantly checking his phone?
There may be any number of reasons why…but there’s a good chance you’re making one of these common mistakes.
Three Common Communication Errors That Make Your Sales Meetings FAIL
Effective selling is more than just talking about why you’re better than the competition or why your customers love you.
There is an art to communication and if you are violating these rules, you’re likely turning your potential buyers OFF.
If your sales meetings are falling flat, there’s a good chance that…
1. You’re talking too much
The classic salesperson stereotype you see in the media is of a smooth-talking guy who speaks a thousand words a minute.
But you’re not a carnival barker or a late-night-TV salesguy.
Think of spam messages – they all tend to have things in common – for one, they tend to be packed with information. They list features and
It’s as if people think that if they just say enough things about the product, the other person will obviously see what’s so great about it and have not choice but to buy.
The client needs to feel heard. If you’re talking the whole time and cutting him off, he has no chance to feel that.
A good rule of thumb is that you should open the conversation and set the framework around it (read about the underestimated importance of setting a meeting agenda), but that the prospect should do the majority of the talking.
If the client is speaking 70-80% of the time, you’re probably doing well. If it’s the other way around, probably not.
The client should do the majority of the talking – ideally responding to well-thought-out questions from our side (sometimes we may violate this somewhat if the client is not talkative and we have to tell stories to give-to-get).
Sometime we simply have to get out of our own way…and allow the client to speak.
This means quitting some bad habits that most people have which kill good communication.
One simple technique you can use to do this is called Silence Management.
And finally remember, your opinions on things are not as important as what others have said (see our article on 3rd-party selling).
So even if you are super-excited about what you think you can do for the other person, keep your own opinions in check. Make your points concisely, using testimonials and things others have said.
2. You’re not asking the right questions – or any questions at all
This is the ugly stepsister of “talking too much.” One reason people talk too much is that they feel they have to fill the empty space in the meeting.
Silences are awkward, after all. Our instinct when they go on too long is to fill them up by opening our mouths.
If they were asking the right questions – or maybe even asking any questions – they wouldn’t have that problem. The client would be doing the talking and telling you why he or she could really get value from your service.
Ideally, you are asking a series of questions – going from general/logical to specific/emotional – that let the client explain his situation and gradually reveal the pain or problem your service can solve.
To know which questions to ask, it helps to have an idea of the industry, company, and especially persona you are dealing with.
People in similar positions in the same industries tend to have the same concerns, problems, and aspirations.
If you create the right flow of questions, you’re going to give the prospect a chance to reveal his situation naturally.
Remember – the person asking the questions is the one in control. Think of any police drama or job interview you’ve been to. It’s clear where the power lies. Of course, you want to keep the tone light and not think of sales meetings as chances for power trips. Be too direct or ask about the pain too early in the process, and you’ll find the potential client closing up.
To prevent this, you need to create a series of 4-6 (or more) questions which gradually take the conversation deeper towards the potential pain or aspiration that you can help them with.
3. You’re jumping right to business - with no personal connection
What’s the first sale any salesperson makes?
Yes, they have to buy you first. What does that mean in practice?
It means they have to at least trust you (if not like you). And so we need to take a bit of time to make some sort of a connection at the start of the meeting.
We call this a number of things, including creating rapport. Members of some cultures and backgrounds are going to be more comfortable with this than others.
Even in cultures which have a stereotype of being “all business”, we want to take a bit of time to talk about either personal details (you’re from/I’m from; if this is your first time in the person’s city; the latest holiday; etc) or other business-related topics of potential connection (other people you know in the same business; something important happening in the industry right now, etc).
This step humanizes you and also gives you a chance to show you are professional.
Jumping right to business is rather abrupt, and in some cultures especially, may be considered rude*.
Plus, you don’t give the client a chance to like you as a person if you go right to the business part. If you’re talking about possibly working with this person for a long time – say if you are a software developer potentially entering a multi-year project with a client – the more important this is.
People want to like the people they are going to work with and give their money to. At the least, they have to trust them.
Taking a bit of time to establish a connection and rapport is the first step to building a potentially long-term and mutually beneficial relationship.
So even if you’ve set the time of the meeting to be what might seem to you to be brief*, put on the brakes long enough to make some sort of a connection.
What’s one thing you can do better?
At NorthStar Consulting we help companies from a wide range of industries – tech, IT, and more – to be better at these kinds of things.
Our goal is to make communication and sales more comfortable and effective for you.
Want to learn how we might be able to work together? We’d be happy to do a 15-minute Skype call and hear more about your situation. If it turns out we can help, great, but if not, that’s fine too.