Tuesday, March 10, 2015


In the world of professional services, having sales conversations is a necessary precursor to making sales. If you're a consultant, coach, designer, financial pro, therapist, or corporate trainer, prospective clients don't just glance at your business card or website, then write you a check.
No, you have to talk to them first. So if you're not having enough of those conversations, you're also not getting enough clients. Here are seven ways to make more sales conversations happen.
  1. Set a goal.
    When you don't set a target for sales conversations, it's too easy for all your sales and marketing time to be consumed by other activities. This is fine when you're in ramp-up or revamping mode and aren't focused on closing sales right now. But if it's sales you want, set a goal for the conversations that lead to them. A typical benchmark is that for every three prospects you have a sales conversation with, one sale closes. Your results may vary, so track and adjust accordingly.
  2. Follow up.
    To land each sales conversation, it's likely you'll have to connect with the prospect more than once. Don't stop after just one contact, and think your prospect isn't interested. Once someone makes an inquiry about your services, assume he or she is interested until that person tells you otherwise. When you're reaching out to contacts who haven't expressed interest yet, try connecting with them via multiple channels at different times. Call, email, mail a note, etc.
  3. Ask for just a conversation.
    When you contact a prospect, it should be clear to both of you that it's only for a conversation. You're not asking for a sale -- yet. You're requesting a time to talk and find out what your prospect needs, tell him or her what you do, and see if there's a match between you. Let go of making a sale, and concentrate on making sure you are a good fit to work together. Both you and your prospect will find a conversation with that intent to be much easier to have.
  4. Make it easy to contact you.
    Have your email address (or contact form) and phone number on every page of your website, or dead simple to find. Don't squeeze visitors into providing their email address before disclosing any information about your business. That may work to sell ebooks and home-study courses, but it's an obstacle to building the relationships that lead to professionals getting hired.
  5. Focus your message.
    Request a conversation about just one of the services you provide; don't offer your entire menu. It may be true that you can help your prospects in a variety of ways, but you'll be more successful at landing sales conversations if you ask to discuss only one specific area at any given time.
  6. Practice your approach.
    Requesting to have a sales conversation may seem awkward or confronting, if this is a new habit for you. Try on your approach with a colleague or coach to build your skill and comfort level. First, role play a request where your prospect agrees to talk. Then have your role playing partner stall, and practice how to respond. Finally, have your partner refuse to meet, and experience what that's like. Practice sessions like these will make the real thing go much more smoothly.
  7. Qualify your prospects.
    It may seem counterintuitive to increase the number of sales conversations you have by eliminating prospects from your pool. But consider how much time you could spend pursuing conversations with people who aren't the best fit for what you offer. Get clear about your ideal client and research prospects to see how they match up. You'll close more sales when you spend more time talking to the right people.
Sales conversations are an essential component of the sales and marketing process. If you make it your job to have more of them, you'll see more clients as a result.
Copyright © 2015, C.J. Hayden

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