Do this exercise for me, will you? Reflect back on the last ten prospect interactions that you worked at to close. Take a piece of paper and write a heading for each prospect’s name. Then write down everything you can remember about your sales conversation with each of them in the order the sales conversation progressed. If you can’t remember, then here is an alternative. Before you go into your next ten prospect/sales meetings, turn on the recorder on your smart phone. Save each sales conversation and then after the tenth recording, go back and listen to all of them. If you have a sales team, have them do the same exercise.

Whichever method you use, the vast majority of you will discover that each conversation progressed in a completely uncontrolled, ad hoc fashion. Upon reflection, you might think yourself incredibly lucky if you closed a sale or two. For those meetings you didn’t close, you will discover the many occasions when you missed key clues from the prospect. If you had acted upon these clues, you would have increased the probability of a close, but instead, you talked right through it. Ask yourself, who was in control and directing the meeting and who maintained the flow of the meeting? Odds are it wasn’t you.

By the way, take note of the person talking the most. A wise man once suggested to me in discussion about sales conversations: “The one doing the talking is the one being sold.” In other words, if you are the one doing all the talking, then you are selling yourself right out the door.

You might well ask, “So what if I am uncontrolled and ad hoc in approach?” Well, if your close rate (number of meetings needed to get a closed sale) is 20% and you could move it to 40%, or even 60%, wouldn’t that be incredibly valuable to you? Moreover, if you could close at 40%-60% and not always be reducing your price to get the close, how huge would that be for your business?

Focus, folks! Focus and practice.

I was recently coaching my daughter, Jaime, at math. She was learning how to add and subtract three digit numbers and she was struggling a bit. I said, “Sweetheart, math is  simple,  because all you do is apply the same set of rules over and over again.” I went on, “Tell me the rules for adding a three digit number.” She did. I congratulated her and then gave her three 14 digit numbers to add. She successfully added them without issue by simply applying the basic rules.

A sales conversation has basic rules which, if practiced and implemented, will significantly improve your close ratio.

Raise your hand if you have ever played in a sport or coached an athlete or a team. What were you instructed to do when playing or when you were coaching your team? What did you focus on during the practices? The fundamentals! Without the fundamental skills in sports, an athlete will be unsuccessful. Without the fundamental rules of math, a child will be unsuccessful. Without the fundamentals of a sales conversation, your business will suffer and be less successful.

So what are the fundamentals of a sales conversation, you ask? Google ‘Sales Conversation’ and there are over 330 million results. Every sales consultant has an approach with a different number of steps or stages and with different names for each as well.

In our upcoming blogs we’ll share the Focus Eight Step sales conversation which is an accumulation of ideas from a variety of sources I’ve worked with and it has proven effective in my career.


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