The Sales Conversation All Prospects Want to Hear

by Chris Arlen on June 22, 2011

Print Friendly and PDF

The Sales Conversation All Prospects Want to Hear

Prospects steer, Sellers push - the one conversation all prospects want to hear

You’ve found a qualified prospect, you know how to reach her and you know what you want from that first conversation. You want to:

  • Tell her your service is the best
  • Get another meeting
  • Find out about her issues
  • Get on the bid list
  • Get her to like you

The question is how do you do that? What do you talk about?

After the Small Talk

In that first conversation with a prospect you’re going to make small talk before getting down to the real reason you’re talking. Small talk lets you make a personal connection and demonstrate good manners and respect.

However, once the small talk is through it’s time to talk business. This is where what-you-talk-about can advance your relationship upwards or sink it into the hopeful bidders drawer along with other sellers.

The Heart of the Conversation

All prospects want to hear ways they can help their business thrive ( or in some cases just keep the doors open).

That’s why they have a job, to fulfill a function or operation that helps their company. Prospects are continually looking for ways to make contributions, and to get those contributions seen and valued.

In all situations, the heart of every seller conversation is (should be) about helping prospects thrive or survive.

Thriving & Surviving

Thriving and surviving is where sellers talk about helping prospects:

  • Increase revenue & sales
  • Improve profitability & cash flow
  • Increase market share & geographic expansion
  • Raise brand awareness & reputation
  • Increase customer satisfaction & loyalty
  • Lower total costs of ownership
  • Decrease defects
  • Minimize waste
  • Raise yields & throughput
  • Avoid unscheduled downtime
  • Ensure regulatory compliance
  • Improve safety & lower insurance costs

This is the conversation all prospects want with sellers, but two conditions prevent this from occurring:

  • #1 Sellers Fail to Connect Service Issues to Business Impacts
  • #2 Prospects Talk to Sellers About Service Issues – Not Business Impacts

#1 Sellers Fail to Connect Service Issues to Business Impacts

Most sellers get trapped discussing common service issues with prospects – instead of focusing on how that issue impacts business.

Common service issues such as high turnover, poor training, missed assignments, contract non-compliance, etc. are important. But only as they impact the prospect’s business.

Don’t believe me? Consider this:

Q: Why should a prospect care if there’s 1,000% turnover in security officers?

A: They’d care when a new officer isn’t familiar with a unique site requirement and the next morning several laptops with classified info are missing.

Sellers must connect service issues to business impacts. This raises the conversation from turnover to something really important, such as risking regulatory compliance.

#2 Prospects Talk to Sellers About Service Issues – Not Business Impacts

Sellers have the responsibility of making the connection because prospects won’t. Prospects aren’t supposed to – they see a seller in front of them and they’re going to discuss service issues only.

Prospects may be ignorant of how a service issue impacts their business, or they may know but not explicitly. If the connection isn’t seen, it doesn’t exist and sellers are then back in the generic vendor pile.

Change the Conversation to the one All Prospects Want

Sellers must invest the time to understand the connection of how their service impacts their prospect’s business. This research must be done before sellers first talk with prospects. Sellers can then move effortlessly from small talk into a meaningful conversation.

Talking about thriving and surviving changes how a prospect sees that seller. A seller that can help increase manufacturing output, or help ensure regulatory compliance, or contribute to greater tenant satisfaction is more relevant and important to a prospect.

That’s a different conversation than turnover. It’s a conversation prospects are desperate to have and sellers want to be a part of. Sellers can become part of the solution when prospects can begin to see them as partners rather than vendors only.

What Conversations Are You Having?

How are you engaging prospects in conversations that lead to achieving your sales goals? Does this approach, taken from the benefit of the prospect, ring true? Share your comments here.

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).


(We respect your privacy.)

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Anonymous June 23, 2011 at 6:11 am

One question ask at every sales call: “are you looking to make a change?” Its simple enough, nobody ever minds that I ask them. And it gets them talking. Its amazing the answers you hear when you ask this.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: