Nancy Bleeke and I met online, but that was just the beginning of our relationship. We developed a deeper understanding of each other by talking on the phone. We both have extensive sales experience, so we committed to learning from each other. When I read her new book, Conversations That Sell, I was reminded of sales techniques I had forgotten. Does this ever happen to you? We get so used to our own patterns that we don’t take time to step away, get feedback, enhance our professional development, and freshen our approach.
Here’s Nancy’s perspective on how control and collaboration are complementary, not contradictory, ways to structure your sales conversations:
“Many buyers have learned (or been trained) that they are in control. They think their role is to be the judge and jury in sales situations. They tell you about their needs or wants. Then they pause and wait for your recommendations.
When you’ve had your say, they pass judgment on your solution—whether it is a service, product, or idea—as distant and uninvolved bystanders.
It’s hard to make the sale with an uninvolved buyer, isn’t it?
Focus on Collaboration
It doesn’t have to be this way. You can stop the judgment with a collaborative selling approach. Instead of telling buyers what you think they need, review options with them, explore their experiences and ideas, and work together to determine the final solutions.
To implement such a collaborative selling approach, take control of the conversation in a different way. Guide the buyer through the sales process, and transform the conversation from order-taking into collaboration.
For example, a sales VP recently told me he knew exactly what he wanted—or rather needed—in a training solution. He was prepared with information and just wanted me to ‘price it out.’
I knew that if I just gave him a quote, his next step would be to price shop with my competitors, and I could lose the sale. Instead, I navigated him through the conversation by listening and gathering the information he was willing to share. Then I asked, ‘Are you willing to consider additional information and options that will give you a higher return on this investment?’
I made it clear I wouldn’t waste his time or money by implementing a subpar solution that wouldn’t deliver the ROI he wanted.
Flaunt Your Expertise
Fortunately, he agreed to a 60-minute conversation—just the game-changer I needed. Together we discovered information that led to a more relevant solution, which cost a little more but shortened the timeframe.
The sales conversation showcased my expertise and separated me from my competitors. The result? I closed a very large deal with him the next week.
Make Your Client Your Partner
How did I win this client? I got the buyer involved in defining the solution; he became the advocate for his own solution, instead of the judge.
That’s how collaboration works in sales. We influence, bring our expertise, guide the conversations, collect information, and involve our buyers—to the degree they want—to build, review, and agree on a solution.
This collaboration stops premature and disengaged judgment. Most buyers want some control and involvement. So let them rest their judgment for a while and achieve resolution to a problem, opportunity, want, or need instead.”
How do you ensure that your buyers collaborate and take ownership in your sales conversations?
About the Author
Nancy Bleeke is an author, professional trainer, speaker, facilitator, and the president of Sales Pro Insider, Inc. Her training courses and processes help companies increase sales by 5 to 25 percent, strengthen employee retention and engagement, and drive customer loyalty. To find out more about Nancy, visit www.salesproinsider.com, or learn more about how to make your conversations count with her book, Conversations That Sell.