It amazes me how much time people spend trying to figure out how sales conversations should be. They read sales methodology books, watch online videos, and buy sales training that focuses on “How to Sell.”
The reality is that most salespeople learned to sell at a very young age. They developed those selling skills throughout childhood and their adult life through everyday situations.
- Getting parents to buy a certain cereal at the grocery store
- Getting permission to have a sleepover
- Making a case for items on their Christmas list
- Getting extra credit for a forgotten homework assignment at school
- Getting out of chores
- Deciding where to go for dinner
- Getting the girl of their dreams to go on a date with them
- Making a marriage proposal
- Making decisions about having and raising children
- Discussing where to live or what to drive when you spouse wants the opposite thing
All of those scenarios represent wanting something that the other person may or may not want as well.
These might have been uncomfortable conversations because decisions were on the line, but all of us have had the experience of being on one side or the other of these conversations. They are natural to life. They are the norm.
So why do we turn off all of that natural ability when we are in a selling situation?
A natural sales conversation should be:
- Agreement on what the conversation is about
- Figuring out if there is a reason to take an action
- Discussing some reasons not to take an action
- Making a decision based on comparing those reasons
For some reason, this is not a natural conversation to most people. But if our goal is to have a good sales conversation, wouldn’t the above outline make it easy for anyone to be successful in sales? Most salespeople fail because the productive conversation is not the goal. They replace that goal with things like:
- Getting a yes or getting the money
- Getting what they want
- Protecting their ego
- Getting their needs met by being liked
If your people are having awkward, unnatural conversations with prospects, it might be time to examine what the real problems are. What are they trying to protect? Why are they so focused on getting their own needs met instead of talking with someone in a natural, unforced way?
That’s why sales training is not about the “how to.” It’s about getting people back to what is natural. That is why we as buyers love good sales people—because the conversation never seemed fake or “salesey.” It was just a natural, productive conversation with a decision at the end.