Good communication is very crucial to your success in sales.
Sounds obvious, right? You can’t make a sale unless you’ve demonstrated value to a prospect. You can’t do that unless you’ve understood their problems and devised a strategy to solve them.
In turn, you can’t do that until you get your prospect to tell you what’s wrong. And so on.
So, communication is vital. We wrote this guide to unpack why communication in sales is so important and explain the top helpful skills to cultivate across your sales team.
The importance of communication in sales
The root of sales success is the ability to gather and provide information in a way that makes your prospect want to do business with you. Your value proposition, your pricing, even your product’s features — none of that matters unless you’re able to get your prospects to talk to you and also listen to what you have to say.
That means you have to be incredibly attuned to your buyer and understand what they mean when telling you — or don’t tell you — something. It also means that you can’t just reel off a list of benefits or reasons to work together.
You’ve got to understand how your prospects learn, what they care about, what communication style they prefer and adapt your strategy accordingly.
So, before you immerse yourself in buyer personas, case studies, and marketing collateral, work on these skills to ensure that when you’re talking to a prospect, you’re sending the right message.
We’re all busier than ever before, and selling can be an especially pressure-filled career. So it’s understandable that during a client meeting, your mind could wander over to the demo you have to prepare for this afternoon, the prospecting you forgot to do, or the contract you’re waiting on to come in.
Just because it’s understandable doesn’t make it acceptable. Showing up to a call isn’t just about physically being on the other end of the line. You have to dedicate 100% of your attention to each market. Otherwise, you’ll miss details and make your prospect repeat things they’ve already told you. It’ll be obvious when you’re not paying attention, and that’s no way to treat buyers.
Learn & Practice Active listening
Not only do you have to listen, but you also have to listen actively. Otherwise, your conversation won’t go anywhere.
“Too often, salespeople are waiting for their turn to talk or thinking about what to say next, instead of truly listening to the prospect,” Databox CEO Peter Caputa says.
Caputa uses the following four-step process:
- Truly listen to the prospect.
- Feed back the content and feeling of the prospect’s words.
- Confirm you heard the prospect correctly.
- Ask a relevant follow-up question to clarify your understanding of their situation further.
- Read body language and control your own.
The same sentence said by someone smiling, looking directly into your eyes, and sitting up straight is received very differently when the speaker is looking away and slouching — even if they meant the same thing both times.
That’s because while we can say pretty much anything we want, our body language often reveals our true intentions or meaning. Great communicators know how to read others’ body language to anticipate the direction of a conversation’s heading and make sure their body language isn’t sending out signals they don’t mean to broadcast.
Master your voice tone
Like body language, voice tone — your voice pitch, volume, speed, and even your word choice — affects how other people interpret you. And if you’re in inside sales, the only thing you have to make an impression on is your voice.
Listen to how your prospect speaks, then mirror their speaking patterns when it makes sense. While you probably shouldn’t imitate every slang word or terminology they use, slow down if they speak slowly — or speed things up if they talk rapidly. Match your level of formality and familiarity to your prospect as well. The key is to meet buyers on their turf — and that means speaking in a way they’re comfortable with.
You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything your prospect is saying, but you should always try to see things from their perspective. And that means more than just saying, “Hmm, I see where you’re coming from.”
The best sales reps can connect with their prospects because they understand the things their buyers do at work every day and the challenges they face. Not only does being empathetic make you more likable, but it also increases your chances of closing a deal. When you can draw on your knowledge of your prospects’ actual day-to-day, you may understand what they care about, which makes it more likely you’ll be able to help them.
Great communicators are not persuasive because they speak in dramatic, sweeping rhetoric. They’re able to convince people because they can point to specific examples or anecdotes that support the point — and in the case of salespeople, because they can demonstrate precisely how a product or feature will help their buyer.
Be as specific as you can. And if you can throw in a catchy sound bite or two, by all means, do it. Just don’t rely on quippy phrases to get a deal to the finish line.
Know what you don’t know
But being an expert doesn’t mean you know everything. Unless you’ve shadowed your buyer, you don’t know what they do or every nuance of their business. So don’t act as you do. You should know enough to sketch out the outlines of their situation on your own, but you’ll always have to rely on your prospects to fill in the little details.
Be aware of the gaps in your knowledge, then ask your prospect to help fill them in. They’ll appreciate your honesty about what you don’t know, and you’ll avoid losing deals because of false assumptions.
The key to sales is asking good questions. And suppose you’re not curious about your prospect’s situation. In that case, it’ll be all too easy to slip into your elevator pitch before you’ve established whether any part of it is relevant to your buyer. Great communicators are naturally curious about their conversational counterparts, and that’s especially crucial in sales — ask questions first, then answer them later.