Creating Sales Conversations

Bob called me with just this problem. His company manufactures creative, attractive and safe playgrounds. Lately, sales have been flat, at best, and despite having an outstanding product, his company isn’t generating as many sales as he’d like. Bob wanted to know how to start more conversations so he can jump start sales.

Want more conversations with prospects so you can sell your products and services?

The first step to starting a conversation with someone is to get his or her attention. In school, you raised your hand and eventually the teacher called on you, of course, that is what the teacher was paid to do. When you’re marketing your products or services, you can’t just raise your hand and expect prospects to call on you. Running an ad or having a website that describes your products or services is the equivalent of raising your hand. It may have worked in the classroom, but it doesn’t work in the marketplace.

When you focus your marketing on yourself, your firm or your products, it rarely works to get attention or start a conversation. To engage prospects and get them to contact you, you need to focus on their needs and wants.

Bob explained that he had three different markets: day care centers, municipal parks departments and architects. Each one has different concerns. For day care centers the focus is on creative design but for the parks department, the main concern is durability and the safety of the materials. As Bob clearly understands, each target market has its own unique set of interests. These interests should be the focus of his marketing effort, not the company name, credentials or product production techniques. Bob could be using these insights to create a marketing message or set of marketing messages to get the attention of prospects.

Through your experience you should have a good idea of the concerns and interests of your prospects and clients. Take a minute to jot down the top three concerns of each of your target markets. Use this information to engage prospects in conversation.

If a stranger walked into your office, what’s the first thing you’d do? You’d say something like, “How can I help you?” Not surprisingly, the same technique works wonders when you combine it with your knowledge of prospects concerns. Instead of touting your credentials or describing your products, lead with a question to start a conversation.

Bob could ask, “Want to learn more about improving the safety and durability of your playgrounds?” Or a marketing coach might ask, “Want to learn more about attracting a steady stream of clients?” Or the line that suckers me every time as an audiophile is, “Want to learn how to make your stereo sound like a live performance?”

When we’re one on one, face-to-face, starting a conversation comes naturally to most of us. Beginning with a handful of questions, you can quickly learn what someone wants and how you can help them. Focus on your prospects’ concerns with a question or two and you’ll get their attention. Offer them something they want and they’ll contact you.

One of the biggest mistakes people make in marketing their business is to over emphasize closing the sale. What you want to do is open the door to new prospects, start a conversation and help them get what they want. Focus on starting more conversations with your marketing and you’ll end up closing many more sales.