TALKING SALES 185: "Seven words that will enhance your sales conversation"

John Smibert

"Teach and challenge your buyer by using these seven words" -   interview by John Smibert. 

In our most recent video Dean Kelly and I discussed "How salespeople can do change up the conversation" by using open questions and being situationally agile.

DJK-picIn this discussion he tells us how to do this without using prescribed questions or a script. This is because using prescribed questions will destroy the authenticity and flow of the conversation.

Key to being in the moment and conducting an authentic and valuable conversation with your customer is to draw on seven words that will ensure you come across as a good conversationalist who creates value. 

Dean's recommendations are very pragmatic and insightful - I think you'll like them.

See the full interview to learn more.  This interview is likely to be valuable for sales leaders, sales managers and professional salespeople.


Dean Kelly is the Sales Deal Mechanic.


John: Welcome back! I've got Dean Kelly with me again, and I wanted to or extend on from our last discussion where we talked a lot about the charts or the images or the graphics that Dean suggests salespeople use to help in asking questions and change up the conversation. So Dean, in response to a lot of the questions I've been getting, how do you recommend questions get asked? What sort of recommendations have you got relative to questions?

Dean: Questioning I think is one of the most powerful tools we have as a salesperson or as a communicator.

John: I totally agree. Even at a dinner party or whatever, the people that ask the insightful questions and get the conversation going, they're the powerful ones.

Dean: And the same applies in a sales profession. A lot of the work that I've been doing is driven from an introspective view of going, "What are your own limitations?" Back in the day your manager would have you write up the questions in advance, and then you'd go in and you'd find that at no point in the conversation was there a chance to use that question.

Sales Conversation 7 words 03- 700x560John: Because the flow of the discussion went in a different direction.

Dean: Absolutely. And in addition to that, how authentic is that when I say, "Hold on a moment," and then I read a question which is pre-prepared? Again, you lose that authenticity. The challenge I think for all of us is how to remain in the moment, authentically here, at the same time the conversation starts to flow, and on top of that how do I get you, the client, into the conversation. Because I can spend 20 minutes and get through 60 slides if you wish, but I know that won't create value. So in changing the conversation I have to become a master in the art of questioning.

So, what are the questions? First of all, we've got to make good use of open questions. The use of the visuals is a way of creating... Think of it like a court, a badminton court or a tennis court, upon which you can ask better questions, so having that there, that's good. And then rather than thinking pre-prepared, the way I'm coaching people is to have only seven words in your head, and the human brain is incredibly powerful. So let's not worry about the whole question, let's work on the first word. Is the word an open question starter, like who, when, why, how, what, where, which? In that way I'm in the moment with you, I'm focusing on you, I don't have to look away and look up and start being too creative. I can be in the moment with you right until you stop talking, and then I can take a moment, and all I'm thinking is which of those seven words is the best one to start with.

I might say, "Who, John, would be also impacted by a decision like this?" or "Who would be impacted by not having that outcome today?" or "What have you done to try and solve that issue previously and what was the outcome?" I can actually throw the first word up...

John: And that will generate the question.

Sales conversation 7 Words 02Dean: The brain works phenomenally fast, it will fill in all the other ones. And you can actually slow down and repeat it and say, "Who, John, would be affected by a change like this?" and it slows the game down. Today we're in such a hurry with everything; if you've got 40 minutes or 20 minutes or 60 minutes with the client, it's using that time wisely. It doesn't mean you have to be in a hurry; it means you just have to operate at a good speed.

John: And you let the customer dictate the speed a little bit. If you're asking the open-ended questions, the customer is going to be responding and doing most of the talking.

Dean: Absolutely, which gets to another phrase you've heard me use previously, called the talk-o-meter. [laughs] How do we get the client doing more of the talking than we are and having a consciousness of the talk-o-meter as we're going through these meetings? The more they talk, the more they're putting the money on the table, they're putting the value on the table - so that's the whole poker analogy, having the client talk - and that also allows us to be curious and authentic and be there with them and saying, "We can help you Mr Customer navigate that particular issue or problem," or exploit an opportunity that you see in the market.

John: Okay. So, the message I got were those seven beginnings of questions, the how, what, when, who and so on. Having those in mind and really clear... I guess you could almost write them down, but to just practice having those in your mind, and the brain is going to... If you're listening intently to the customer and really in their court, automatically those questions are going to be generated by using one of those words - what, how - and the question will come out.

Dean: Exactly.

John: I love it! That's great advice and I hope everybody gets a lot of value out of that. Look forward to your questions, and we'll have Dean back for another discussion very soon!


More of Dean Kelly:



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