Five tips for doing business to business sales conversations

Last Friday, Jan Willem Klerkx from EUvision and I organized a masterclass at the YesDelft incubator where we discussed selling complex products in business to business sales meetings. Both Jan Willem and I have worked in companies where we had to sell intangible services, such as software, projects or advice. You cannot offer free trials for many of those services or explain the benefits with a technical demo, so many startups and established companies struggle with  sales or have high sales effort and costs. In the masterclass we explained techniques that helped us doing sales in the past (and learned from the participants about their experience). Sales is a large topic and we could have made this into a full week course. Unfortunately no-one had so much times so we covered the essentials. Here are five of the messages from the masterclass.

  1. Always work on being a trusted and equal conversation partner. Building trust is necessary for people to do business with you. You can do this with small things such as being punctual, making and keeping small promises, show that you can keep confidential information confidential, and dare to share personal weaknesses.
  2. Think of sales as an enjoyable activity. Selling is a process in which you help a customer fix a problem or fulfil a need.
  3. Forget open and closed questions. Instead, use framing, diagnosing and confirming questions. Using these questions, let the prospect state and confirm that there is a problem or need, let him/her confirm the size of the need.
  4. Do not make a proposal unless you have the deal. Let the client ask for a proposal, and ask what he wants to do with it. If there are open questions, resolve those directly. Also make sure you have agreement on the price beforehand.
  5. Use your posture but especially your voice to support what you want to say. You will be taken more seriously using a low voice, and will appear more relaxed and have more relaxed conversations when using a high voice to emphasise a light remark. Techniques like these will make your verbal and nonverbal communication consistent and convincing.

The last tip is explained in greater detail in “Selling icecream to eskimo’s” by Pacelle van Goethem (Dutch only). Building trust and the trust equation are concepts from “The trusted advisor” a famous book amongst management consultants. If you have more questions or suggestions (or would like to join the next masterclass), please drop us a note.

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