I came across an interesting video from Mike Schultz of the Rain Group; the video speaks to the concept of Entrepreneurial Selling. It makes the case that the key to successful selling for an entrepreneur is to engage your customers in conversation. The concept of engaging a customer in a conversation may sound obvious, I have been in sales a long time and the way that Mike positioned the concept of a “conversation” is a new concept to me. I think the reason for this is I have read many sales books and attended sales training seminars and the focus is always on what I need to say to a prospect/customer to be successful. In selling and in my training not enough attention was paid to what the customer is saying.
According to Wikipedia a “Conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette.” Listed below are some of the challenges that sales and marketing people face when trying to engage in a conversation:
• Conversational Narcissism – People compete for attention, in social situations, people tend to steer the conversation away from others and toward themselves.
• Conversations may be ideal when, for example, each party desires a relatively equal exchange of information, or when one party desires to question the other. On the other hand, if permanency or the ability to review such information is important, written communication may be ideal making it difficult for sales people to start a verbal conversation.
• Conversations follow rules of etiquette because conversations are social interactions, and therefore depend on social convention. Failure to adhere to these rules devolves, and eventually dissolves the conversation. Push marketing and cold calling border on breaching social etiquette.
Below are some recommendations to overcome barriers:
• Learn to be an active listener, this is a communication technique that requires the listener to understand, interpret, and evaluate what they hear. The ability to listen actively can improve personal relationships through reducing conflicts, strengthening cooperation, and fostering understanding.
• Use marketing to engage a prospect and customer in a conversation and leverage marketing automation to help keep the conversation going with the customer.
• Use Marketing Intelligence, Lead Nurturing and Lead Scoring to help you make the conversation more about the customer than you. Leverage the intelligence to get to know your customer prior to calling them so you can follow the rules of conversation etiquette.