Six Truths About Your Customer Conversations That You May Not Want to Know—and What You Can Do About Them

Sales Conversations

TRUTH #1: Congratulations. You just had the best sales call they’ll never remember.
Fact: 95% of what is delivered in a typical sales meeting is forgotten 24 hours later. And if that weren’t bad enough, you can never know which 5% your prospect remembered.

However, you can make more of your content stick with these three strategies:

  • Focus on what the customer NEEDS to know and remove irrelevant information. Ideally, you should have three key points of discussion per call—and no more.
  • When it comes to key phrases you want your audience to remember, repeat them a couple of times throughout your conversation. If you’re running a PowerPoint presentation, include that phrase to appeal to your customers’ visual side as well as their auditory side.
  • Pause in between key points of discussion to allow your customer to reflect on what you’ve said and absorb the information.

TRUTH #2: The attention span of the average adult is between five and seven minutes.
Unless your information is delivered in new and compelling ways at this interval, your prospect will tune out. Blame it on the brain!

There are a variety of tactics you can employ to maintain engagement throughout your sales call, including:

  • Use stories to emphasize key points. Stories engage your customer at an emotional level and offer a welcome break from dry facts.
  • Vary the conversation format every five to seven minutes by using relevant visuals, discussion and humor to engage your prospect and access his or her memory in a new way.
  • Use PowerPoint the right way. Choose visuals to enhance what you’re saying, not as speaking notes.

TRUTH #3: Not everyone buys into your argument.
The thing that convinces you isn’t necessarily the thing that convinces someone else. Everybody is persuaded differently. Some people want facts and figures, other want to see evidence that your approach has worked before and still others want to know that it’s what their peers are doing.

Don’t assume that your customer will be persuaded in the way that you are. Play to all persuasion styles, using data evidence, social proof, personal guarantees of success and relevance to achieving their goals. Apply the various persuasion techniques throughout your conversation and see which resonates the most with your customer.

TRUTH #4: Jan Brady was right.
Remember Jan Brady from The Brady Bunch? As the middle child of her TV family, she felt ignored because most of the attention fell to her younger and older sisters.

The truth is that Jan had reason to think she was being ignored. Studies have shown that people generally only remember the opening and closing parts of any given conversation and forget the middle. And yet, if you think about most sales presentations, the important information is generally put in the middle.

Structure your presentations by calling attention to important information where it’s most likely to be remembered: at the start and at the end. Start by laying out your key points at the beginning (preframing), expand on them in the middle of your discussion (informing) and summarize them at the end (reviewing) of the call.

Or, as Dale Carnegie famously said, "Tell the audience what you’re going to say, say it; then tell them what you’ve said."

TRUTH #5: All customer conversations will produce an outcome . . . but it may not be the outcome you want.

If you don’t set explicit objectives for your sales call and align every aspect towards achieving them, you may dilute your purpose and your message, as well as confuse your customer.

Start by asking, "By the end of this conversation, what do I want my prospect to know, believe, and do?" Then clearly define your desired outcomes for the conversation into a shortlist of achievable objectives. Align your questions, comments, insights and presentation to one or more of the outcomes. Focus every aspect of the call to the desired outcomes: the agenda, the collateral and the conversation—even the follow-up correspondence. If you come across a part of your presentation that doesn’t align with your outcomes, eliminate it. This kind of focus will create results.

TRUTH #6: Customers Only Care About Themselves.
This is no big secret. People want to know what’s in it for them. If a topic isn’t directly relevant to a person, his or her brain doesn’t retain the information.

If you want your prospects to remember what you’ve shared, they need to see a clear connection between your solutions and their own personal objectives. Without that connection, content retention is unlikely.

Here are three final tips for making sure you connect with your customer:

  • Start the conversation by clearly outlining the outcomes and connecting them to how they’re relevant to your customer.
  • Ask your customer to share his or her own objectives for the call and make sure to address them during your conversation.
  • Reinforce this throughout the call by preframing every point by explaining what’s in it for your customer with a "Here’s what this means for you…" message.

Confronting these six truths head-on will help you create a conversation that stands out in your prospects’ minds, one they’ll take action on. Additionally, these six truths will help you create a differentiated buying experience that will set you apart from your competitors in ways that matter most, ensuring you’ll be remembered long after the conversation is done.

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