Sales success depends on building good relationships, but recent research reveals that just 35% of U.S. sales professionals were able to make a personal or emotional connection with the majority of their prospects over the last year. Often overlooked for trending techniques, a good conversation is still the simplest, most effective approach to fostering the types of connections that close deals. The key to building an army of sales winners lies in providing your reps with the tools to make every conversation with potential prospects as positive and productive as possible.
Use your data to break the ice
According to Salesforce’s most recent State of Sales report, high-performing sales teams are 2.8x more likely than underperforming teams to say their sales organizations have become much more focused on personalizing customer interactions over the past 12–18 months.
The more your reps know about a lead, the easier it is to have an engaging sales conversation. Tight integration between your CRM and contact center can help you deliver data-driven ice-breakers and ensure improved prospect interactions. From call and purchase history to company, job title and location, having instant access to a full spectrum of information about prospects increases the chances of making successful sales calls.
Empower reps to make best practice the only practice
Research indicates that sales reps forget 84% of what they learn through training programs within 90 days. Although it can be tempting to save time and money by enrolling your reps in multi-day programs, there is no substitute for short and frequent training sessions. For this reason, one of the most important aspects of preparing your reps to be their best during sales conversations is to nurture their communication skills through digestible and ongoing training.
The best sales reps are successful because they can support their arguments with points that persuade and reassure. If you work in a specific industry, your reps will struggle to sound authoritative without proper preparation. In addition to regular training, it’s a great idea to empower your employees by ring-fencing time in each week to keep up with the latest developments in your commercial space.
You can build on this training by re-enforcing best practices through a gamification platform. Gamification introduces incentives for your employees to reward them when they reach a personal or business goal. Means of reward can include, for example, artificial digital currency, a progress bar or a points system that gauges employee progress and allows you the opportunity to reward certain milestones. Your team can find new motivation to improve their technique and focus their energies on hitting targets. They will also be able to manage their time more efficiently and push themselves as individuals and as a team.
Listen and learn
When NewVoiceMedia asked inside sales professionals to select the key drivers behind a prospect feeling a personal or emotional connection to a brand, 44% flagged speaking to a rep who prospects felt listened closely to their problems as important. Active listening is a communication technique that helps sales reps to build trust with a prospect. It involves concentrating on, remembering and responding to what is being said, rather than waiting for your time to talk. Developing your team’s active listening techniques means you’ll be better at understanding your customers’ issues and devising solutions that help your business stand out from the competition.
Providing channels for your customers to offer feedback is one of the best ways to learn from your customers. Post-call IVR surveys are a great way to collect the insight needed to meet the expectations of your customers. However, the most important thing to remember is that communication is a two-way process, meaning the best sales conversations are born from listening to and learning from your customers.
Speak the language of your customer
From a sales perspective, communication is not about you; it’s about the customer. Using buzzwords and industry-specific jargon, is one of the quickest ways to confuse and alienate your customers. Speaking in the language of your customers will make your product or service seem instantly more engaging, helping to reach newer audiences and fuel sales.
Speech analytics solutions like NewVoiceMedia’s Conversation Analyzer provide powerful insights that would otherwise remain locked inside your business’s data. Using speech-to-text software to deliver transcriptions of every single customer contact, you can spot trends and keep track of your customers’ wants and needs while learning to deliver more personalized experiences. You can also track things like compliance, and the time reps spend listening versus talking.
Good conversations are critical to winning the hearts and minds of sales prospects in today’s Age of the Customer. For brands to compete — and win — in 2018 and beyond, inside sales reps must focus on making strong personal connections with prospects, and they must understand the emotions that are likely to drive their prospects to purchase.
For more on this topic, check out NewVoiceMedia’s new whitepaper, Why you can’t afford to ignore customer emotion when making a sale. Or if you'll be at Dreamfore next week, make sure to attend our learning session Selling is a team sport: coaching as a science, which will cover how you can use data and science to coach your team to perform. You can also book a one-on-one meeting with us or visit our booth on the expo floor (1538), for a demonstration of how to make every sales coversation great.
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About Olivier Gachot
Olivier Gachot is EVP of North America Sales at NewVoiceMedia, responsible for accelerating growth through new customer acquisition and maintaining successful and trusted partnerships with existing customers. He is a proven leader in building and transforming SaaS companies at scale on a global basis. His 20+ years of experience include leading several companies from early years to successful IPO and acquisitions.