7 steps to more engaging customer conversations

When presenting to a prospect for the first time, the first five minutes are the most critical. “If your audience decides your presentation lacks merit, you’ll be dismissed after a short, polite discussion and the meeting will roll on to the next subject. If the idea is deemed worthy of consideration, you’ll explore it in greater depth together,” says Ken Dooley of Customer Experience Insight.

For a conversation to go well, salespeople must have a clear picture of both the organizational objectives (lowering cost, increasing productivity, increasing sales, etc.) and the personal objectives for the prospect (promotion, salary increase, increased influence, etc). Dooley offers these seven tips to help salespeople meet the needs that prospects reveal:

1. Produce information that educates the customer about primary problems you know similar companies face. Benchmarking data helps.

2. Once you lay out the key issues, provide a fresh perspective that makes the customer think differently about the matters you’ve unfolded.

3. Lead to your unique strengths. Your teaching should lead the customer to think “How can I make that happen?” This is where you educate the customer about how your solution will help.

4. Challenge customer assumptions. You must reframe the customer’s thinking. You want the customer’s reaction to be, “I never thought of that before.”

5. A new way. Now that you’ve laid out the problem, try to provide a solution on how the customer would benefit by instituting a quick change to improve the situation.

6. Explain ROI. Organize your return-on-investment calculations to focus on the money the customer wastes by not taking action. The goal is to build the customer’s sense of urgency about fixing the problem.

7. Tailor your message. Explain how your solution is the best answer for the customer.

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