There Are No Shortcuts to Effective Sales Conversations

Sales Expert Scott Plum
Scott Plum, Founder of the Minnesota Sales Institute

If a potential client is willing to engage initial conversation, they have an underlying reason to consider your product or service. Sales conversations are most effective when they are focused on your client’s concerns – not the product or service you provide. There are no shortcuts to effective sales conversations.  Always take the time to understand your potential client’s concerns – usually this means asking good questions! Listen to, and really hear, their responses. Consider how your product or service can meet their needs on an intellectual and emotional level. Respond with ‘you’-focused language. If your client’s needs are not seen, or of no real interest to you, you will most likely lose the sale. My friend, sales expert and sales coach, Scott Plum shares this helpful article on the subject. Enjoy!

You’re Not Being Tested
by Scott Plum

He walked into my office and sat down. I asked him, “How you doing since our last session?” He replied with, “I’m still struggling with confidence. I wish I saw me how others see me. I want to earn their (prospects) respect and when they come into the store, I want them to value working with me. I want to offer them value, so they’ll buy from me.

I asked him, “What do you think would be of value for them?” He answered with, “The benefits of the machine. What it can do. To show them I know what I’m talking about.”

He obviously had been through the standard, new hire sales training program that emphasis’ features and benefits, with a summary test on product knowledge before releasing them into the wild. This traditional onboarding program gives him great frustration, because he is not making his numbers and the month is closing in 12 days.

I responded with, “What do you say when they ask you about the machine?” He said, “I show them how it does that and this, and show them this new feature, and that cool add-on and tell them to get on it and try it out for themselves.” “Then what happens?” “They ask a few more questions, I tell them what they want to know and then they want me to write the best price I can do on the back of my business card.” “Sounds like they are serious,” I said. “Not really, I never see them again,” as he slumps in his chair.

“What do you know about the prospect when they walk into the store?” I asked. “They are looking for a treadmill.” “And”, I said. There was silence.

We cannot do our job effectively unless we know what the prospect wants to accomplish (gain, latent pain) or avoid (current pain). What are their expectations? Where have they been looking? What have they found? What’s missing? Why haven’t they purchased something already?

These are the questions we should be asking. And we will find the answers. Most importantly, the prospect will be finding the answers – their answers, which will lead them to their reasons to make a purchase decision.

They won’t purchase for our reason. We can only talk long enough to give them an excuse not to buy. They keep asking and we keep talking, until we give them the excuse they use against our reasons why they shouldn’t buy from us.

The prospect has already been shopping before they entered the store. Are they on the right track? That’s want they are really thinking. Your questions will confirm and affirm, and within that discussion, you can ask about their expectations and goals. This will give you the target to hit when demonstrating equipment and other solutions.

I closed our session with a simple statement. “You are not being tested when someone asks you a question. You are not a student in this situation. Your job is to find out the expectations of the customer and what they want to accomplish.”

Offering them the best solution, saving them money, hassle and frustration based on their reasons to buy will be of value to them. Being prepared to focus on what they want and need, and not what you have and offer, will give you confidence. And you will earn their respect when you play the role of a salesperson by helping them better define their opportunity, so you can fill it with the best solution.

Scott Plum is the Founder of the Minnesota Sales Institute. He teaches salespeople how to shorten their sales cycle, increase their closing ratio, generate more revenue and get in front of more qualified prospects. He also works to uncover the barriers that hold salespeople back from doing what they know they should and stop doing what they know they shouldn’t. He is an active member of the Nation Speakers Association and President of the Professional Sales Association. For more information visit:

Thank you Scott!

Understanding and addressing your client’s unique needs, builds trust, demonstrates your industry expertise, and helps your client discover on their own why your product or service is the best choice.  “How to Make a Sale by Making Your Questions Count” and “Are You Insulting Your Prospects?” (which includes another great piece by Scott Plum!) are just two of the complimentary resources on to help you close more sales.

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