In sales, it’s important to know the market and to know the best-practice techniques, but it’s not everything. At the end of the day, there is no use in knowing the market if you don’t know how to approach a prospect or handle a client. Effective communication is the link between your skills and knowledge and closing a deal.
It’s as if your know-how is the theoretical part of being a salesperson, and communication is the practical part of it ‒ and you can’t have one without the other. As you navigate these waters, keep the following skills in mind.
1. Make sure you’re speaking the same “language”
While you might be both speaking the same literal language, the way you phrase your message might not be the most effective way of doing it. The way we speak, everything from tone of voice to the idioms in our speech patterns, directly affects our understandability. You might be a fast talker, but if your listener prefers a slower cadence, you may come off as hurried or dismissive.
Try to be just the right amount of technical, informal, etc. You want to be certain you’re not being too confusing, and that you’re both on the same level of closeness. You can follow their lead a bit by seeing how they approach you, and how open they might seem when it comes to how formal you must be.
2. Watch your body language
You can say a lot by the way you sit, greet, and how you behave as you carry a conversation. Body language is a way of communicating, it is not a coincidence that it is called a language. Eye contact, for instance, is very important, as it shows empathy and makes them feel heard. Playing with the hair too much, on the other hand, is a sign of nervousness or insecurity. Be mindful of body language, both yours and theirs ‒ you might be telling them something and not even realize it, and they might be showing you something without them knowing it, too.
3. Know when to listen
A conversation consists of moments where you talk AND where you listen, but most people might forget about the latter. Listening is part of communicating, and not just so you’ll know what to answer, but how to answer, too. As a prospect or a client is telling you something, there’s more that you can pick up than only what they’re saying, so make sure you’re actively listening. In active listening, you must focus on what is being said, paraphrase it back, and withhold judgment. This ensures that you understood them correctly and helps you remember what was said.
4. Be as clear as possible
Miscommunication happens when things aren’t as clear as you think they are, leaving room for confusion or misinterpretation. This is closely related to the first tip about speaking the same language. Be straightforward and informative, not flowery or prosaic. Ask simple questions and provide unambiguous answers at all times. You may also keep a checklist or script handy for everything you need to address as you go, ensuring you cover the necessary details with each communication.
5. Do not lie!
Remember body language? Even if you try very hard to not show that you’re lying, somehow, you will come off as dishonest to clients. It’s almost like people can sense it, whether it is in your tone, in how some things might not add up, or just putting two and two together and realizing what you’re promising is farfetched or unlikely. Lies can be easily detected, and the truth comes out sooner or later since it will be hard to keep track of what you’ve made up and said.
6. Research constantly
Research on a client, on the market, on trends, and even on communication skills! It is one of the best ways to be prepared every step of the way. There is no problem in saying you don’t know something, but it is best not to say that too often since it will make you seem unprepared, and therefore, unreliable. Being up to date on every trend, technique, and everything else related to sales should be one of your main goals, as it can be quite a differential between you and the competition.
7. Give them “space”
It might seem like dating advice, but it applies to all relationships, including professional ones. You have to know when to approach people, and most of all, how constantly. Email them or call them too much and you might wear them out, whether by seeming too desperate or just for being plain annoying. Nobody wants to do business with someone they feel doesn’t know how to respect their space and their time.
8. Know how to greet and how to say goodbye
As we have established, communicating is not just about what to say, it’s how you say it. The way you’ll start an interaction can make or break a deal; the way you’ll end it can either burn a bridge or bring you more opportunities in the future. Always consider this when deciding how to talk to a prospect or a client, and this might also help with your reputation in the market.
While these tips all refer to different issues and steps of a sales process, they are all tied together by a simple concept, which is that the key to effectively communicate is to empathize with whom you’re speaking. Knowing how to see things through their perspective is the key to making sure a business relationship will succeed.