Today we’re talking about how to structure a sales conversation. It’s something that I’m very passionate about and something that I know women in business in particular really struggle with.
I’m going to teach you how to structure a sales conversation so that you’re maximising the number of perfect clients who actually convert, while staying aligned with your values and not jumping into the spacing of convincing, pushing, or trying to force people through a process.
If that sounds like something you’d like to learn then stay tuned!
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Let’s get started…
What do I mean by a sales conversation?
What I’m talking about here is either at the end of an introductory session – or in a conversation of its own – you’re speaking with someone about a course, coaching program or a package of services you might have to offer.
You need to:
1. Understand what their needs are
2. Propose that they jump into something
3. Deal with objections and help close the sale
These are 1:1 conversations that you’re having with people in which the objective of the conversation is for you to get them to jump in and purchase something of yours IF they are the right fit.
As I said, this could either be a standalone conversation where they (for example) book in a 15-minute conversation to see if it’s a good fit, or it could also be at the end of a single session or package.
Let’s say you offered an introductory session where they’ve paid $97 to spend an hour with you and at the end of that conversation, you would like to broach the subject of whether or not it’s appropriate for them to continue working with you, and how that might happen.
Whether it’s a standalone conversation or at the end of another conversation, I generally recommend that you follow the same process.
1. Warn people
I warn people that we are going to have a conversation about something else through this process.
If it’s a single session and we’re actually going to do some work together first, at the start of the session I will say: “Here’s how this session is going to roll out: first I’m going to ask you a heap of questions, then I’m going to see where I can provide the most value and set you up with a few strategies moving forward. Then at the end of the call, if you’d like, we can talk about how we can continue working together. Does that sound okay?”
I’m actually warning them that we’re going to talk about them potentially working with me further. I’m giving them a heads-up that there will be a sales pitch as part of this conversation.
By asking, “Is that okay?”, I’m also getting a bit of permission from them as well.
This gives them a little bit of a preempt whether it’s a free conversation or a paid conversation. That actually helps ME calm down, and get over the “AHH! There’s going to be a sales pitch at the end” mindset wobbles, as much as it helps that person be prepared for it as well.
Again, number 1 is to let them know as early as possible that you are going to be presenting a way for you to keep working together towards the end of the conversation.
2. Ask questions and dig in
For me, I will not pitch for my products or services if I don’t actually know that it’s a fit.
This is actually where a lot of people struggle with a masculine-oriented sales process because you only ask questions and do digging once you get to an objection – once you’ve done your pitch.
But I think that, particularly for women in business and those who want to balance their masculine and feminine energy in our processes, it’s actually much more powerful and much more aligned to start asking questions first. You need to make sure that this is what they need and that the thing you’re about to propose is going to give them the outcome that they’re looking for.
I generally have a good set of three to four questions that I’ll ask people about what’s going on in their business:
What are they looking for?
What are their big challenges right now?
And what are their plans?
I know the kind of questions that I want to ask people in order to know how I can actually help them, not just sell to them. That’s a big difference.
I love to ask lots of questions, and you might like to write down a bunch of questions and have them as a little pick ‘n’ mix for you on your screen so that you can make sure you’ve ticked off the things you need to know.
When I was first doing sales conversations, I did have a little checklist there.
It made me feel safe, it meant that there were no awkward “Er, I don’t know what to say next” moments, and it made me feel really confident and comfortable with the process.
Have a think about questions, the way you would ask them, and the things that are pertinent to you helping recommend a course of action for that person.
The other thing that I will say here is that I’m very open to recommending that the person doesn’t work with me.
It takes a very strong sense of self-confidence, but I think it’s an important thing for us to nurture and practice. To be able to say to someone, “You know, I don’t think I’m actually the right person for you right now. What I would recommend is that you do x, y, and z, and here are some peeps that I recommend…”
When I started really nailing that and really being discerning about who was a good fit and who was not, it really made a difference to the way that I operated in my business and the results and conversions that I did get once I’d started really nailing that messaging.
I would make sure that you’ve not got the mindset of bringing people into a call and being like “I have to make the sale at all costs” but tune in to yourself. How confident do you feel to say “I don’t think I’m the right fit for you. I don’t think I can help you get what you need. What you need is …”?
That presents you as an expert in your field.
I’ve had a lot of people who I’ve responded to with: “This isn’t a Tash question, this is a messaging issue, so go and talk to Steph Hulett or Kim Mulcahy” or whoever it might have been.
They’ve gone and done that work, and then come back to me ready to work with me. The amount of times this has happened is more than it hasn’t, so it’s a really beautiful thing to be able to do.
Back to the process…
Step one is to let them know the conversation is going to involve a sales pitch. Step two is to ask lots of questions and do some digging into the areas that are pertinent.
You will get better and faster at that process as you practice, but just start practising now and asking lots of questions.
Whether it’s at the end of a free session, or whether it’s a standalone sales conversation, I still ask for permission.
The way that I do that is: “Look, it sounds to me like you need X, would you like me to tell you how we can do that together?”
They are my words. It took me thousands of different sentences and practice to do that permission sequence and find something that worked for me. You’re welcome to use my words to get you started, but that really felt comfortable for me.
Now people can answer with either yes or no. I’ve had people sign up to 15-minute conversations with me, I’ve asked a couple of questions and said: “You know it sounds to me like you need help with your social media strategy, would you like me to tell you how we can do this together?”
And the person has gone “You know what, you’re right. I haven’t even focused on my social media, so I’m just going to go and do that for now.” and I just follow with “Cool, let’s close up.”
There’s no point in me giving my sales pitch to this person if they aren’t actually open to hearing it right now.
I still ask that question – even if it’s just a sales conversation that we’re having.
Especially if I’m on a session with someone and I want to talk about their next steps, because with those people who are in a single session, it acts as a tipping point and indicates when you’re done with the strategy part of the session and we’re at a point where we’ve mapped out a beautiful plan together, now let’s close up and talk about next steps.
It’s a really great way to do it since it helps you to move the conversation into the sales pitch section.
If they say yes, the first thing that I do is ask another question. The reason being is that you want to make sure you’re presenting the exact right thing for that person.
If I ask them if they’d like to hear how we can do that together and they say yes, I will say, “Okay, are you thinking short term or long term?” Or I will ask “Are you thinking short and intense and let’s get it all done at once, or would you like to do this over a few months?”
I’m asking them the question on HOW they want to work before I present a bespoke way on us actually doing that together.
4. Ask another question
This helps me understand how they’re wanting to work with me. Some people will say “Er, I don’t really know. What do you recommend?” and I’ll just jump in and recommend something based on the conversation we’ve had and the digging that I’ve done so far.
5. Do the pitch
I will say “Okay, what I think we should do is have fortnightly sessions. We’ll do 4 of them at an hour each, and normally I charge $1495 a session, but if we put all 4 sessions together and pay upfront it’s $4500. What do you think?”
This is something that we talk about a lot in my Academy and the 100 Days of Colour program – how hard it is to shush, but how important it is as well.
Once you’ve made your pitch, it’s so important for you to stop talking, because a lot of the time someone has given a pitch of something and I’m thinking in my head that it sounds really great, and then I have to wait for them to be quiet so I can ask how to pay them, but they don’t shush and start rambling about different ways to pay, payment plans etc.
All it does is confuse.
I was about to say “Yes, shut up and take my money!” but by the end of the time that they’ve taken having six conversations with themselves and stopped talking, I don’t really know if I want to anymore.
What I would say is you don’t want to preempt objections.
Probably my number one piece of advice for sales conversations is don’t come up with all the objections in your head and try to address them upfront.
You’re not a sales page, you’re a person. You are capable of answering the objections they may have if they actually have any objections. If they don’t have any, you addressing them is just wasting their time. Be silent, and move on to step seven…
7. Answer objections and questions
If they then say: “Ooh that sounds great. Is there a payment plan? Because I’ll probably have to pay this off.” That’s when you tell them about the payment plan.
If they say: “Hm, I don’t know about this. If after the first session, I’m not 100% sure do you have a refund policy?” Then you tell them the refund policy.
If they say: “That sounds a bit too intense, can we spread it out over 4 months instead of 2 months?” Then you can tell them that they’re able to spread it out.
You can make decisions on the fly about what things you’re willing to do, how much you’re willing to space it out, and what the price difference will be if you change that bespoke package to fit them more closely.
Wait for the questions and objections, don’t address them in advance just in case that’s an objection or question the person has.
That actually means that you come across as much more confident in your work, and also gives you an opportunity to see what people are saying when they get that initial sales pitch from you.
This is helpful when you do that sales pitch as a written version in Facebook groups or on your page. You will know what the most obvious and common questions that people have are and how to address them because you’re not having a 1:1 conversation on your sales or Facebook page. You are broadcasting that information.
8. If it’s a no, then close up with an agreement to follow up
What I do is I say: “No problem at all. Is it okay if I follow up with an email in a couple of weeks and see how you’re going from the session?”
They might say yes, or they might be more like: “No sorry, I just don’t think we’re a great fit for each other.”
To which I’ll follow up with “Okay, I’ve got you on my mailing list, would you like me to remove you?” This is because if they’re a hard no and don’t want to work together at all, chances are they don’t want to be on my mailing list. I do the admin tidy-up then and there so that I know I’m not annoying them via their inbox, and I know that my list is only full of people who are really excited about working with me. Sounds good, right?
9. If it’s a yes, get the money as soon as possible
I know a lot of people who will say: “Okay cool, no worries. I’ll send you an invoice later and then we can book your first session.”
By doing this you have instantly made it hard work for your client.
Generally what I say to people is: “Would you like to pay via credit card or PayPal? These are the two options that I have available.”
Sometimes I’ll offer a bank transfer option if it’s an Aussie client (particularly if it’s a big amount of money because it saves me some fees).
If it’s PayPal or credit card, I can actually process that payment immediately there and then on the call, and people know that I have a great refund policy.
Other people will say: “Can you send me an invoice and I can pay that on Friday?” Then I will do that, but they have to ask for it.
You can see here how it’s a conversation, and you start with your piece. If they need something different they ask for it. You present them the action you want them to take now. “My preference is that you pay right now. Can you pay right now?” You probably shouldn’t be that blunt, but find the words that work for you.
For me personally, after every sales conversation, I’ll sit down for 2 minutes and do a review.
What were the main questions the person asked?
What were some of the objections that they had that I haven’t thought of?
Is there something I can learn from this?
What can I learn from it if it was a yes?
What about if it’s a no?
Give yourself a little review straight after a sales conversation, because that’s when everything is fresh in your mind.
Let’s recap the ten steps to a sales conversation, because I know there’s a lot of information here. It’s something that comes down to practice and something that we are all going to get good at as we go forward.
It’s a non-negotiable skill for entrepreneurs.
We better start learning it sooner or later, right?
1. Warn them nice and early that there’s going to be a sales pitch as part of the conversation
2. Ask questions and dig in. Get some information first so that you can present something that’s actually going to help them achieve their outcome
3. Get their permission “Would you like me to tell you how we can do it together?” Whatever it might be, find the words but get that permission
4. Ask your first question. The first question about packaging it up. Intensive or spread out? Long term or short term? In-person or online? Whatever options you have for people
7. Answer questions and objections
8. If it’s a no, close up with an agreement to follow up
9. If it’s a yes, get the money and make it easy
10. Do a review
Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Heart-Centred Business Podcast, it’s been super fun sharing my sales conversation process with you.
Do you have questions about this episode? Comments? Continue the conversation in the Heart-Centred, Soul-Driven Entrepreneurs Facebook Group using #podcastaha and the episode number (157).
Until next time, I cannot WAIT to see you SHINE.