How to Keep the Conversation Going When in Sales…
By Paroma Sen, Director,Strategy-ITechSeries/SalesTechStar
One of the key goals for anyone in sales includes driving prospecting and sales conversations to further conversions and improve win-close ratios. A lot of time in a typical B2B sales cycle goes in negotiations and follow-ups. At some point in the cycle, it is common for prospects to ghost a seller. But the reason behind this can never be attributed to one cause, often times, a prospect could end up dropping off the radar because they aren’t ready to buy into your product or service, they found an alternate (and more cost-effective) solution, they themselves are moving out of the organization or they don’t feel the need to invest in your product or service given the current state of their business and near-term goals. These are just some of the reasons that can lead to prospects’ lack of response to the many follow-ups sales people end up sending their way.
The trick lies in finding common ground or buying triggers and interests that can drive a prospecting and sales conversation further and prevent a prospect from ignoring you.
When sales people feel that a prospect is either taking too long to respond to them or if it looks like the prospect is losing interest and may fall off the buying cycle, sales teams can use different types of conversation hacks to try and keep that from actually happening.
Here are a few basic practices that can help:
Finding a Non Work Related Common Ground
Every sales leader will stress upon the importance of having their sales teams use different sales intelligence tools to understand their target audience better. Today’s business intelligence and sales intelligence platforms can offer an array of relevant information and data to sales people that can help them understand what their target audience is interested in, what type of products/services they have used in the past or those that they use currently and more. Complimenting this information by using a target audience’s social media feed to try and find that one common ground can benefit a sales person by allowing them to drive a conversation that a prospect might be more interested in.
For instance: if your key prospect who hasn’t been as responsive lately likes football, initiating a conversation about it can trigger interest in responding.
At this stage, sales people need to be smarter about who they want to keep reaching out among the many prospects that are bound to fall off the buying cycle. This shortlist should be based on that prospect’s interest through the sales cycle, conversation signals and the last meeting that was conducted; sales people need to aggressively go after only those key prospects that still have some chance or converting based on how the conversation along the sales cycle has been progressing so far.
Putting the Prospect in the Driver’s Seat
Open-ended questions can actually help sales teams drive better prospecting conversations while putting the prospect in the driver’s seat for a change.
If your prospect, with whom a demo turned out great and a customized pricing/quote was also sent starts avoiding you, any good sales person would like to know the reason why.
But instead of the usual, mundane sales follow-ups that most salespeople would pursue at this stage, using questions that drives the prospect to answer or respond can make a huge difference.
While doing this, it is important to avoid questions that can lead to monosyllables as responses. What a sales team needs at this stage is a proper response that can keep the conversation flowing.
Questions like, ‘’How can I help you and your team achieve your goals,’’ / ‘’Is there a specific feature or service you need customized – if so tell me about it,’’ are just some examples.
Capitalizing on Compliments
Sales people need to have the gift of gab to sell better. But they also need to know how their industry works, what triggers buyer interest, what are their buyer’s main pain points, among other crucial factors, to improve the health of every sales conversation.
When getting on sales calls and demos or especially when it looks like a prospect is about to fade away from the sales lifecycle, sales people need to use their gift of gab to bring them back in.
There exists a very thin line between genuine compliments and unnecessary flattery. Understanding how to capitalize on the latter can build a better sales conversation process on the whole.
Simple openers on the lines of ‘’I loved what your marketing team is doing with their podcast,’’ can work well when a sales person is pursuing a demand gen or content marketing team to drive a closure. Something like, ‘’it was interesting to read what you/your CSO wrote about selling challenges in B2B,’’ when chasing a prospect who belongs to a sales team themselves can be another way to try and keep the conversation flowing.
Driving value here by tying something the prospect or one of their key team members has been doing on behalf of the brand can help make or break the conversation. Appreciation, at the end of the day, can get people to acknowledge and notice what you’re saying.
Knowing How to Handle Negotiations
Facing that “but” after you have done all your preparation is definitely demotivating. But it is going to happen to even the best in sales at some point in most sales cycles. No sales person should feel demotivated though, because, there are various tactics that can be used to negotiate smartly and still try to win that deal by keeping the conversation flowing. The aim here is to try and get the prospect to continue the conversation and prove that your product/solution is the best-fit for them (especially if the sales cycle had positive outcomes until this point in the buying cycle).
People like to buy from brands and sales people they trust and those that resonate with them. Understanding this core customer sentiment in today’s marketplace can help drive better sales conversations that lead to more closures, or at least those that help prevent prospects from completely disappearing on you.