Every conversation is an opportunity that you are wasting in your sales conversations, your pitches, every client call, they're all opportunities that you are letting slip by and fixing this is 100% how you start the conversations.
In business, we all know how important first impressions really are. They're going to set you on the right path or the wrong path right from the start. And so in your conversations with prospects, with clients in those early conversations, you'll find yourself either entering into them at a place of authority, where you have great momentum, or literally you're spending all of your time trying to recover from that initial impression. So first, you got to know that tone is everything, the tone that you set, the way that you carry yourself, the feeling in the room or on the phone. That's everything and what you're trying to do is trying to connect with people, you're trying to understand them, you're trying to be able to see if you or your product or service can help them.
And so if there's these weird, awkward pauses, or you feel like you're not clicking, or you're saying one thing, and then they're thinking something else, it's really hard to recover from this. And so the way that you start your initial conversations, that tone that you set will help you or literally hurt you. So here is the single best way to start any conversation with a client or a prospect.
Show them that you care
We want to work with people we connect with in any sales conversation. When you're sitting down in front of someone early on, you need to ask yourself, what is it about them, their business, their model, how they work, their brand, that I have interest in, that I admire, if I walk into an amazing office space or an amazing building, I'm going to take note of that, I'm going to ask them about it. “How is it that you put yourself in a position where you could have such a great space like this? I was on your website, and I love your photography. I love your brand”.
“And I love your product or service. You know what, it's cool that you say this or that you have this challenge. How did you even think of that?” It's important that you find something that deep down inside yourself, you're either curious about, you admire or you genuinely love. And then tell the person that asked them about it, show some interest, not only will it give you more insight into the prospect for the customer who's interested in your product, you will start to actually make a connection because you are connecting the things that you admire about them or love about what they're doing with the things that they clearly love themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn't have done that. They wouldn't have spent the money on the office. If they didn't like it, they wouldn't have built the culture or the team if it wasn't important to them.
Learn about them
You're demonstrating that you have a connection and you're just breaking the ice to ask them why they're thinking, what they're thinking. If you are having a conversation with a client, with a prospect, if they're looking at a product, if they're looking at a service, something led them to you. And so there's nothing wrong with asking them, “What are you thinking? What conversations happened that led you to this point? Why is it that you're considering this?” These are all really simple questions to again, break the ice, but to get the prospect talking about their point of view, what it is they're thinking, how they arrived at this, and you're going to find out a ton of information from them, you're going to get a sense of what they value and what they don't value, what they fear and what they love.
You're going to learn so much about them just by asking, “What brought you into the store today? Why are you considering doing this? What is it you're hoping to achieve?” Simple, simple questions, but the value of getting the conversation going is that you're not talking about you - most sales training will say that the first question you want to ask is what you want to you know, you want to show how smart you are, you want to talk about how you know their industry, you know, common challenges, you're gonna, you're going to put it out there, you're going to talk about all the things that you can do, but don't talk about you, what you want to do is you want to ask them, engage them, find out from their point of view, you want to keep your lips shut, ask the questions, and then take the time to listen.
3. Find out what their challenges really are
And now you're at the point in the conversation where you can start to dig a little deeper, you can start to find out what their fears are, what their challenges are, what they're up against, how you might be able to help them. Your standard, consultative or insight-based selling techniques can now be employed because you're entering into a conversation with them and you know more about them and you've shown some genuine interest and you've started to make a connection - now you can go into all of the things still with them, talking still with you, asking them questions still with you, listening and taking them through the process.
You can really identify their needs, really identify what their challenges are so you can ultimately determine whether you can even help them whether there's even really a fit in what it is that you offer. But now's the time when you start to really dig into the real challenges that traditional selling techniques say to talk about you, right? Lead the conversation with common industry challenges and say, “Well, the challenges we see is x, y, z, do any of those apply to you?”
Don't do any of that. It's not only stupid, it's not only assumptive, it gives you so many chances to miss the mark. If you were to sit down in front of me and tell me what the common challenges are in the industry, you might get one or two or three things right. But if you get it wrong, I immediately think you not only don't know what you're talking about, your information might be out of date. But you literally tarnish my opinion of not only you but your entire brand.
Let's say that you're speaking to a certain vertical or certain industry, and you say, “You know, we worked a lot in this industry, and we know exactly what we're talking about. And common challenges are x, y and z, and and here's how we help” but I know that six months ago, laws changed or I know that that's outdated or a slightly older way of thinking about it. And so while you might get it right sometimes, or you might get it right for people who are just getting started, if you were sitting down with next level people with advanced knowledge, people who are experts in their industry, you will actually point out how stupid you are.
So don't talk about you. Don't take an assumptive approach where you put out all of the challenges there are in the industry, take the time to make a personal connection with them, ask them what they were thinking, to get them to this point in the conversation, and then start to dig into their challenges, their unique challenges to them.
You always have the chance later in the conversation to circle around on how you help those challenges, the experience that you have, the common things that you've seen, you can always drop little stories throughout the meeting in terms of other people who had similar challenges to them to demonstrate your credibility and your trust and everything about how great you are, but don't lead the conversation with you. Don't lead the conversation with general industry challenges. It will literally destroy your chances of closing those deals.