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The (lost?) art of conversation

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I actually went all weekend without looking at my work email. (The fact that I went out of town and forgot to take my iPhone did have something to do with it.) My wife asked why I was not checking my email, so I played it for all it was worth and told her I left the phone home on purpose. Even though the comment pleased her, I knew I would be buried in emails come Monday morning.

Monday morning arrived, and sure enough, I was forced to look over around 140 emails that had come in since Friday night. My first reaction was to take the easy way out by segregating the email senders I recognized and deleting the rest. After abandoning that idea, I focused on addressing client-related emails first.

Email can generate prospect interest. Once that was done I went back to the ones I did not immediately recognize and began methodically reviewing each one. Most were sales offers with claims of “better,” “faster,” “more cost effective,” and I began deleting them immediately after reading the subject lines. I hit the delete key faster and faster, and then all of a sudden I stopped. Something had caught my eye just before hitting delete: The subject was “Talk is not cheap.”

But we all know that talk is cheap, so I was curious what the sender had to say and opened the email. The message contained a very concise statement about the product being sold. It was actually a service that we need on an ongoing basis. His note went on to say that he realized how valuable my time was and rather than waste it by going through corporate presentations and PowerPoints, a five-minute phone call could determine if there were reasons for us to continue talking.

Turning a qualified conversation into a sale. I won’t go into detail about the services offered by this firm, but they had an offer that proved to be very valuable to our company. The call happened, and the five-minute conversation blossomed into an in-depth discussion of the sales rep’s firm and how they could help us. A week later we were doing business.

The point is that a sale will not happen until a conversation is started, and a conversation cannot happen unless your firm is noticed by a prospective buyer. Starting a sales conversation can be as simple as sending a well-scripted email. Don’t design your sales calls on the fly; take the time to build your email or sales call script so that you can confidently start a dialogue and turn that new prospect into a client.

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Dan Hudson is the co-founder and president of 3forward and has a B2B sales and sales leadership background of more than 30 years. He can be reached at [email protected].


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