Today the buyer has reviewed a lot of information before they ever even talk to you. They have so many more options and their expectations have never been higher. So what does this mean for you? Your number one job is to be friendly and ask questions about what they’re looking to do.
You can no longer expect to move buyers through your own self-serving internal sales process. In fact, the only way to execute an effective sales process today is if it fits neatly into the buyer’s own discovery and information collection process.
Executing a sales process is what your job used to be. Now your job is to help people buy. You are their tour guide, recommender, and trusted advisor throughout the buying process.
You can craft even more personal conversations with buyers when you use firmographic, demographic, technographic, and behavioral data to understand buyer intent.
Buyers don’t care about your sales process. They care about how you can fulfill their needs and desires.
Before we dive in, let’s level-set to understand the principles of Conversational Marketing & Sales. It’s useful for us to think about this in terms of a framework: The old (or business-centric) approach vs. new (or customer-centric) approach.
Conversational marketing & sales always puts the buyer and customer first.
Principles of Conversational Marketing & Sales
Being more helpful and buyer-centric will pay you back over the long run. You’ll have a much higher chance that a buyer will become a customer if everyone at your business follows these principles.
In the past, live chat was typically only a tool for support teams. If you used live chat in sales you had to dedicate people to use it, it was filled with noise, and you likely didn’t have enough people to triage all the conversations. Salespeople hated it because they ended up fielding a lot of support type questions.
Now with conversational marketing and sales, chatbots start conversations and qualify buyers so your team can have the right conversation at the right time with the right buyer.
SDRs can continue their normal prospecting activities, but now they’ll get notified when a buyer wants to engage. This can happen when the buyer is on your website, when they open an email, when they click on a sales email sequence, or when they watch a video.
They might already be using real-time intent signals and with conversational sales they’ll get even more of these signals. For example, you probably get excited when you see a buyer forwarding that email you sent to a lot of people.
Or you’ve been chasing someone for a long time and they finally reply or finally pick up because the timing is right. This is what you’re going to experience every day with conversational sales.
You’ll be able to engage with a buyer on their terms because marketing has designed it so only the buyers that are ready and want to have a conversation will be able to connect with you.
Here are 7 ways to have buyer-centric sales conversations.
- Always understand what the buyer is trying to achieve (and why) before offering a solution. Do so by asking the buyer to clarify and elaborate.
- Be present and use active listening. You’re trying to understand where they are in their process. Use authentic stories to convey why they should care and take the next step.
- Show passion with your buyers. If you’re not fired up, they won’t be either.
- Confirm your buyer’s questions.
- Be transparent with your buyers on what you’re doing and any next steps.
- Share examples. A quick, “Hey would you like to see how (blank) is working for a business like yours?” goes a long way.
- Help the buyer buy. Keep them in mind and consider their position.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that buyers have a very structured and rational buying process, but any buying process is messy. The buyer wants what they want, when they want it. Never trash your competitors. Doing so makes you look insecure and doesn’t help your buyer make a decision. Help your buyer make a decision by clearly communicating your positioning and strengths/weaknesses compared to the competition.
The profile and skill set of a great salesperson continues to evolve. They must be empathetic, patient, and creative with have strong critical thinking abilities. In the next chapter we’ll discuss how the role of the sales development representative has changed and how to find hire great SDRs for your own team.