The Easy Way To Close More Sales With Your Sales Conversations

by Charlie Cook

The best sales presentation I’ve ever seen wasn’t a sales pitch, but when it was over I was sold for life.

Wouldn’t you like to be able to do that with your marketing — sell clients for life without a single sales pitch?

I was in high school, attending a mandatory assembly about safe driving. We students were mostly polite, but mostly inattentive until we saw the speaker toss a raw egg to a volunteer on the stage. By the time we heard the “splat” and saw the egg dripping from the volunteer’s hand, the speaker had our attention.

“That egg is you in a car crash without a seat belt,” the speaker said. “Its simple physics; when a fragile object in motion stops suddenly, the energy has to go somewhere.”

“Now, let’s see what happens when we protect the egg,” he said, placing another raw egg in an empty cardboard egg carton. The speaker flung the carton half way back into the auditorium, where a student caught it. On instructions from the speaker, the student opened the carton, removed the unbroken egg and held it aloft.

We were sold. That simple but dramatic demonstration has stayed with me all these years and I buckle my seat belt every time I get in any car.

The speaker may have been throwing, but he wasn’t pitching. As the egg story shows, there’s more than one-way to sell.

Good selling isn’t about high pressure and fast talk.

It’s about presenting ideas in ways that grab their attention, eliminate their objections and demonstrate value. It’s about providing information that enables buyers to make informed decisions. A canned sales pitch is rarely the best way to do that. In other words, you can win without pitching.

First, start thinking like your clients. Market to your prospects from their perspective, and you’ll never forget that:

1. No one likes to be sold, but nearly everyone likes to buy.

2. People do things for their own reasons, not yours.

3. People buy from you because they know you, like you and trust you.

4. People make buying decisions based on emotions, not facts.

Don’t Make These Sales Mistakes

Typically when sales people sense a prospect’s interest they rush to close the sale. They bring out their big guns and launch all the reasons the prospect should buy. More often than not, they end up shooting down the sale.

Last week I got a call from an Internet marketer who I’ll call Rex Relentless. Rex offered me a commission to promote his services. He wanted me to promote his business in my newsletter, on my Blog and, to top it off, add a flashing banner to my site.

I get dozens of requests like this each week and I wasn’t interested. When I balked, Rex shifted into sales overdrive. He wouldn’t stop talking about how great his product is. He kept pointing me to more and more pages of supporting data and testimonials.

Did he think I would agree to promote him just to shut him up and make him go away? I couldn’t get a word in edgewise. I finally had to interrupt him to end the call.

After that, I never wanted to hear from Rex again, much less work with him. If you’ve ever run into a similar salesperson you know how obnoxious they can be. And I’m sure you don’t want to emulate them with your small business marketing.

What’s the alternative?

Rex asked for the sale again and again and in doing so, killed it! The irony is that he does have a great product that I might have been willing to promote. But he was so focused on getting the sale that he gave no thought to what I would want out of the deal. He never asked me a single question about my business, my sales, or my own clients.

You may not be as relentless a salesperson as Rex, but in most cases asking for the sale at all is a mistake. It’s the fastest way to kill the sale and lose a potentially lucrative client.

That’s right; if you have to ask for the sale, that’s a clear indication that you haven’t sold your prospect. You need to do a better job of eliminating the obstacles to the sale so they ask you instead of the other way around.

By now you’re asking yourself, “Is Charlie off his rocker? If I can’t ask for the sale, how do I close more sales?”

I’m going to show you how.

The simple steps I’m going to show you work equally well for those of you who don’t rush the sale but don’t know what to say to close. In fact, many entrepreneurs and small business owners are so uncomfortable with pitching and that they barely sell at all. When a prospect asks them what they can do or how much it’s going to cost, these people freeze. They don’t know what to say to get to the sale.

Both types need a strategy that will work to help the prospect become a client.

The Simple Truth About Selling

The simple truth about selling — and the secret to selling more — is that your prospects are better at closing the sale than you are, if you lead them to it.

The concerns and ambitions of your prospect trump any rationale you could provide for making a purchase. Instead of you trying to sell them on the benefits or your product – when you get them to explain the benefits they are looking for they sell themselves. All you need to do is guide the conversation to get them tell you what you want to hear, why your product or service is the perfect match for their needs.

How does work?

By turning the sales call into a consultation with your prospect about their needs, wants and goals, and presenting your products and services as the solution to their business problems.  When you do this your prospects see you as helping them get what they want instead of just someone trying to get their money.

Once you understand this strategy and put it into practice, you’ll close many more sales. This approach turned my career and my business around and changed my life. It can do the same for you. You can increase sales with less effort and less expense.

How To Create Winning Sales Conversations

Before you ever meet with a prospect, prepare a list of questions, questions you can use to control the flow and subject of the conversation, and bringing it to conclusion you want.

Use the 7 steps below to get your prospects’ attention, increase the perceived value of your offer and get more prospects to buy.

1. Set up

You’re ready to get a conversation going with your prospect and eager to learn about how you can help them. But before you get started with the sales conversation you want to have, they divert it and ask you what your products or services cost and why they should buy.

They start asking YOU questions. What do you do to get the conversation back on the track you want to follow?

Acknowledge their question and tell them you’d be happy to answer it but first you need to know a little bit more about their company or what they are looking for. Then use your questions to regain control and refocus the conversation. In doing so you’ll avoid letting them turn you into a “pitch and prove it” salesperson.

2. Use questions to guide the conversation.

Focus your questions on your prospects’ problems, concerns, and aspirations. (See the Action Steps below for a guide to planning these questions.)

You want to learn what your prospects goals are. If you’re selling advertising, use your questions to get them to tell you about their business, how things have been going, what’s working and not working and what they want to achieve.

Ask questions to find out how much they want to make next month or this year and how much an average client is worth to them.

3. Get the details.

Get all the details so you can calculate how many more clients they’d need to attract with your advertising to more than break even.

4. Tell prospects what they’ve told you.

That’s right. Show them you were listening and summarize their problems, concerns, goals and the bottom line results they want to achieve. And ask them if you got it right.

At this point they should be saying yes, yes, and yes to all your affirmation questions.

5. Present your solution.

Tell them what you can do to help them, but not how. Keep it simple — don’t lose the momentum of the conversation by getting into details about your processes or techniques.

Think of how most people buy cars; they don’t want to know about the fuel injection system or the double overhead cam, they just want to know how powerful it is or, these days, what kind of mileage it gets.

6. Ask them if your solution is what they’re looking for.

Before you ever mention price, check to make sure you’ve just prescribed the right solution. If not, go back and explain a solution that matches what they told you they want.

If you’ve got it right, your prospects will tell you so and you’re almost at the close.

If you mention price too soon, before your prospect is sold on the value of your services, they’ll get sticker shock and think you are charging too much. Remember that the value of your services is relative to the prospect’s perception of the value you provide.

To avoid getting objections, make doubly sure prospects have told you the value of your services before you mention price.

7. Call to action; reveal the price and close the sale.

If you’ve done a good job with your questions, the prospect will know why they want your products or services, what your unique differentiators are, the value you provide and how important it is for them to make a decision today. They’ll recognize the value you provide and they will practically close the sale for you.

Remember the 70/20/10 Rule

The consultative approach to selling I described above isn’t new. Some of you are using it now. Some of you think you are using it now, but in my experience, 96% of small business owners, marketers and salespeople make the same mistake in selling; they ask prospects a question or two and then they turn on their pitch.

On the basis of very little information about their prospect, they switch back into the old selling attitude of “convince or die!”

This is backwards. Instead of spending a small percentage of the conversation talking about the prospects’ concerns and problems and using the bulk of your time pitching and asking for the sale, do the opposite.

Remember The Simple Truth About Selling! Prospects will always sell themselves better than you will. Use the formula below to check the way you’re spending your time in sales conversations and marketing efforts:

The 70/20/10 Formula

• Prospect’s problems, goals and aspirations; 70% of your time

• Your solution; 20% of your time

• Your call to action; 10% of your time

Action Steps

Make a comprehensive list of questions to use in your sales conversations. You’ll need questions in each of the following areas, and may need additional questions tailored questions to your or your prospects’ industries:
1. Conversation Starters
“How’s business?”

2. Diagnostic Questions: Uncover Prospects’ Concerns
“What’s your biggest marketing challenge?”
“What are you doing to market your business?”
“What’s working and what’s not?”

3. Questions About Goals: What Prospects Want to Achieve
“What are your revenue goals for this year?”
“How many new clients do you want to attract?”

4. Value Questions: Get Prospects to Tell You What Your Services or Products Would Be Worth to Them
“What’s the annual worth of an average client?”
“How many clients do you currently have?”

5. Urgency Questions
“How important is it to you to attract new clients this year?”

6. Where They Are Looking for Help Questions
“How can I help you?”

Then use your list to guide your sales conversations, avoid selling andyou’ll close more sales.

2 More Essential Selling Rules
1. Never try to sell your prospect on your product or service. Instead help them sell themselves.
2. Never let your prospect turn you into a sales person. See rule #1.

The rules of selling have changed in the past decade. Where you used to be able to call on a client and pitch your services – things have changed. No one wants to hear your pitch or hear you talk about yourself and your company. Your buyers, especially in this economy are focused on themselves, their needs, their goals and are looking for help.

When you replace the pitch and pray approach with a client-centered conversation using the questions you’ve listed above, your prospect becomes the sales person and provide their own sales pitch – one they are much more likely to buy than any you could provide.

The result – you’ll close more sales.