Todd Martin

Todd Martin

Sales Strategy

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Does Your Sales Team Communicate Effectively? 10 Tips

July 16, 2013

It’s at the heart of everything you do as salespeople, a skill everyone on your team must possess.

Your customers and prospects are probably reading and hearing more words than they were in the pre-social media days. Are you and your team using the right ones?

It’s like Robert McCloskey, a former State department spokesman, once said: I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Todd Martin 070913 image 1It’s difficult enough to develop customer relationships and move prospects toward conversion. Don’t lose sales because of communication problems. Consider these suggestions:

Be well-acquainted with the word “You.” Whether you’re writing sales copy or meeting a prospect for lunch, address them directly.

Ask, and ye might receive. Don’t leave your prospects guessing. Ask directly for what you want. Feedback? A follow-up meeting? A commitment to do a trial of your product? A name and email address so you can share a demo or webinar or sample? A promise to think about it and to let you follow up? An outright sale?

Make sure your body language matches your meaning. You don’t have to flail your arms around, but neither do you want to be like the teacher droning on in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” Are you excited about something? Relating an incident that touched you? Happy to see your customer? Concerned about the problem they’re expressing? Let it show.

Use the same language you use to talk to your 14-year-old. Not the same words, of course, but a similar vocabulary. Newspapers are written at the 8th grade level. Don’t make your customers guess at your meaning.

Practice reflective listening. Rephrase what the customer just said – in your own words – to make sure you understood what was said. This technique can come in handy when a customer is upset (lets them know you’re listening and can diffuse some of their anger) or when you’re at a loss for words (keeps the conversation going).

Let empathy and emotion precede product talk. I’ve written a lot here about building rapport before you start moving toward a sale. It’s critical. And when you do start discussing products, emphasize benefits. Don’t be a walking spec sheet.

Start with a story. But make it brief, and be clear on how this relates to your next sentence.Todd Martin 070913 image 2

Let your prospects feel like they’re controlling the interaction. There’s an old saying that goes something like, The party of least interest controls the relationship. So be humble. Be gracious. At some point say, Well, I don’t want to take up more of your time…” If they want to keep talking, they’ll let you know.

Use positive, upbeat language. Don’t be an Eeyore.

Constantly gauge your customers’ reactions. Listen to their words and watch their body language. Be ready to adjust your approach at any time.

I’ve said it before, and I’m likely to say it again: Be genuine. Be real. Be honest. If you lose a sale because of it, you may still have created a future customer.

Stock images courtesy of

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