5 tips to control a sales conversation on a call

Speaking with your customers on the phone still matters, it’s one of the most powerful ways to communicate with potential customers as you can use personality and ask questions in real time to provide the prospect with a compelling offer and really understand their pain points.

Think about these statistics, 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone and according to Marketing Donut 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the meeting. 44% of sales reps give up after 1 follow-up, so persistence also matters.

Have a clear goal for the conversation

A conversation can go in many different ways but you have a goal which is to nurture this lead and push them down your sales pipeline and convert them into a paying customer.

You should never go into a sales conversation unprepared, and you should always have a goal for the call so that there’s clarity for you and the prospect. You can figure it out by asking where in your sales pipeline they are and what the next step is and how this call will get them to that next step. By having a goal you can also discriminate against leads that aren’t going anywhere, and it forces a decision for them to move closer to converting into a paying customer or not. The worst result you can have is a prospect who’s unsure and you can’t get an answer out of them.

Ask questions to find their pain points

You want to listen to the prospect but you want to guide the conversation so it doesn’t meander aimlessly. That’s not useful to you or the prospect. But you don’t want to be too pushy so the way to do it is by asking questions.

Questions are awesome, they allow you to qualify the prospect to verify your product makes sense for them, they also allow you to find out what really matters to them. What the real pain point is for them and therefore you can figure out how to match that pain point with your solution.

In this way it’s more natural and less salesy, it’s a friendly conversation and together you’ve figured out a way of dealing with their problems, it just happens to be your product. There are various sales methodologies on what questions to ask and when, for example SPIN focuses on questions that revolve around the Situation, Problem, Implication and Needs payoff.

With SPIN selling the goal isn’t to dictate the benefits of your solution to them but by asking the right questions you weave a narrative that gets them to understand your offering’s benefits which is always better and gains a stronger commitment from them than if they thought they were bamboozled by some fast talking sales pitch after the fact.

Listen and then focus on what matters

You’re going to get leads that are going to machine gun objections. The worst thing you can do is try to counter each little thing they bring up because the conversation can become combative, and move away from a sales conversation into an argument.

It’s not useful and frankly can derail the whole thing so you lose sight of the goal of the conversation. The way to deal with such a prospect is to not engage, listen and let them get it out of their system.

You should ask them “OK I hear you but which of those are the most important to you, your deal breakers?”. Everything that they just threw at you is not going to be a deal breaker. By asking this question you can focus your energy on what actually matters and therefore save the call. Most of their objections are going to be nice to haves or kind of important but if you can identify the deal breakers and you can meet those deal breakers you’ve still got a deal on your hands. Ignore the nice to haves. They don’t matter and when you’re done going through the deal breakers ask if you’ve addressed them properly. If they say yes then fantastic you can move the sale forward if they say no then ask what you’re missing. By doing this you cut all the unnecessary stuff and you can prioritise on what will actually get you the sale.

Focus on value provided not features

Never go with features when discussing the benefits of a product especially near the beginning. I’ll give you an example, I was in the store looking for a new router as the one provided by my ISP was terrible.

So the conversation went through several routers explaining all of the features many of which I didn’t understand, many of which I had no use for such as QoS which might be great for gaming except that was not relevant to me.

The value I was looking for was a strong consistent WiFi signal that could reach dead spots in my house and that it was easy to set up. All of the features mentioned only served to confuse me.

So whenever you go into a sales conversation focus on the value for the customer, does it simplify their process and thus save time? Does it reduce costs and therefore save money? Think about what the value added here is and then make it crystal clear to the prospect.

The features can come later on once you’re sure the prospect understands the potential value added and that they find this compelling.

Make the purchasing process simple

People hate complexity, the more difficult something seems the more likely they are putting it off which as a salesperson is not what you want. Make their life simpler so that they’re more likely to make a decision.

Give them a clear path from this sales conversation to the final goal of solving their problems. Give them options with a clear explanation of pros and cons of each so they can weigh up each one and then make a decision.

The harder you work to make it easier for them, the more likely they are to buy from you.

In Summary

Controlling a sales conversation is not that complicated. It’s about getting both you and the prospect to understand whether your solution can reduce their pain and if so ironing out the details of the deal so that you can do just that.

It’s about maintaining motivation on both sides, once you know what the goals are you can utilise the tools described above to ensure you achieve them.

One last tool that any good salesperson will have in their toolkit are referrals. If you don’t have any you should get some, salespeople who actively seek out and exploit referrals earn 4 to 5 times more than those who don’t, and 91% of customers say they’d give referrals. But only 11% of salespeople ask for them. It’s a simple ask that’s powerful and you’ll be ahead of 9 out of 10 other sales people.