Conversational Selling: How to Build Relationships and Drive Revenue for B2B
Do you ever feel like you're banging your head against the wall?
Despite your best efforts, you can't seem to engage prospects in meaningful conversations. Heck, you don't even know if you're talking to the right prospects in the first place.
Worse, new competitors spring up on a daily basis, stealing potential customers away from you and making it even more difficult to differentiate your products and/or services.
You feel like you've tried everything: cold calls, unsolicited emails, and inbound marketing tactics. They all fall flat. Some even seem to harm your company's reputation. What's the deal?
If these scenarios sound familiar, don't worry. You may just need to try your hand at conversational selling—an approach that many B2B sales teams have seen success with.
By prioritizing two-way dialogue and active listening, conversational sales can help you build a personal connection with prospects, better understand their needs, and ultimately, drive more revenue for your business. Yes, it's really possible.
Keep reading to learn what conversational selling is, the benefits associated with this sales methodology, and an eight-step strategy you can use to implement it.
What Is Conversational Selling?
Think about traditional customer acquisition strategies…
Marketing teams create SEO-optimized blog posts, social media contests, live webinars, and other kinds of content to attract website visitors. Said visitors are then asked to fill out online forms if they want to learn more about the products and/or services the company sells.
Those who fill out the forms are considered "leads" and given to salespeople, who send emails, schedule phone calls, etc., to connect. When this finally happens, they pitch their products/services, then follow up repeatedly, hoping to close a deal every now and again.
It's a tedious process—I'm exhausted just thinking about it. Fortunately, there's a better way.
What if your reps only engaged with prospects who wanted to buy? And what if they could make the sales experience so good, most of them actually did? Imagine what your team's close rate would be. Or how little you'd have to worry about meeting quota.
By using modern technology like chatbots and dynamic sales chat, and teaching reps to guide prospects to purchasing decisions rather than sell to them, you can make it happen.
Now, don't get me wrong. Conversational sales isn't a silver bullet. Your company won't dominate just because you implement a conversational approach to sales.
But it can definitely help sales teams close more deals. This is especially true for businesses in certain industries, like eCommerce. But it has, and will continue to work in B2B, too.
What Are the Benefits of Conversational Sales for B2B Companies?
Why should your B2B company adopt a conversational sales approach? Because it will help your reps build trust, establish credibility, and drive more revenue for your organization.
Let's take a closer look at each of these three benefits:
It Builds Trust
Conversational marketing and sales is all about—you guessed it—conversations. Reps have to talk to prospects to implement this strategy effectively.
When they do, they'll focus on guiding prospects to the right product/service. They will not try to sell them something they don't need. This naturally builds trust.
Prospects will realize that the rep they're talking to actually cares about the customer experience, not just meeting quota and earning fat commission checks.
As you know, trust is essential in sales. You can't sell a paperclip, let alone an expensive B2B product, without earning your prospect's trust first. Conversational sales makes this easier.
It Shortens Sales Cycles
Traditional sales methods are terribly inefficient.
A website visitor fills out an online form and becomes a prospect. The sales rep assigned to them responds 24 hours later via email. The prospect writes back when it's most convenient for them. Two weeks go by, and the sales rep is finally able to schedule a phone call. By that time, the prospect's excitement for the product/service has waned, and the sale is unlikely.
Thanks to advanced chatbots and training to improve reps' conversational skills, much of this back and forth can be eliminated. This shortens sales cycles and boosts close rates.
B2B brands will find this particularly advantageous. You naturally deal with longer sales cycles, so anything you can do to shorten them will likely put a smile on your face.
It Drives More Revenue
Conversational sales allows reps to create more personalized experiences.
It makes sense. Reps aren't forced to follow rigid sales processes, so they can listen to each prospect's needs and suggest products that meet them. This often results in more sales. After all, prospects don't feel sold to. They feel as though they've been guided to the best solution.
This approach will benefit your company in the future, too. Existing customers will enjoy buying from your brand, so they'll be more open to upsell and cross-sell offers. Win!
8 Steps to Build a Conversational Selling Strategy
Think conversational sales might be the right approach for your sales team? Follow the eight-step process below to implement this strategy effectively.
1. Understand Your Audience
Who do you want to sell to? Don't say everyone. That's a recipe for disaster and will only make it harder for your sales team to identify qualified leads and target accounts.
You need to have an intimate understanding of your ideal customers. Who are they? What do they like and dislike? What channels do they prefer? What pain points do they struggle with? What does their typical decision-making process look like, and who makes the decisions?
Once you know who your target audience is, you can use technology to help pinpoint them. Apps like Drift, for example, will help you learn which website visitors are viable leads and which are just going to kick tires. That way, you can focus on folks who might actually buy.
Deep knowledge of your ideal customers will help you improve the buying experience, too. You'll know that most new leads prefer ABC, not XYZ. You can then give them ABC, build trust, and ultimately, move them farther down the sales pipeline.
2. Develop a Conversational Flow
Next, learn how to engage and interact with potential customers the right way. Here's a conversational flow you and your sales team can use to do it:
- Greet your prospect in a friendly way. If possible, personalize your approach by dropping their name, company, title, and/or behavior in your initial contact.
- State the purpose of the conversation. If you contact the prospect first, make sure they know why you've called or emailed them. If the prospect contacts you first, pay special attention to the reason they've reached out to you, as well as the timing.
- Build rapport with your new lead. To succeed with conversational selling, your prospects need to trust you. You can build trust by listening to prospect needs, highlighting other brands you've sold to, and making intelligent suggestions.
- Move into prospect discovery mode. Once you've built rapport, work to understand your prospect's current position. The best way to do this is to ask them open-ended questions, practice active listening, and repeat what they say to ensure understanding.
- Ask questions to better understand challenges. To clarify, there are two kinds of questions that you need to ask prospects. The first has to do with the challenges they face. What are they struggling with? Can you help solve this problem?
- Ask qualifying questions to make sure they fit your ICP. The second question has to do with the prospect's fit. Are they a good lead for your company? Do your best to learn about their needs, budget, and whether your prospect is a decision-maker or not.
- Highlight the benefits of your unique offering. You know a lot about your potential customer at this point. Now you need to present your product/service in an enticing way. That means pinpointing specific benefits that relate to their pain points.
- Share case studies. Remember what we said about trust? An easy way to build it at this stage of the conversation is to share case studies. Show potential buyers how you've helped similar customers so that they understand how you can help them, too.
- Provide next steps in the sales process. Finally, tell prospects what they should do next. The action you suggest will depend on the conversation you had. In general, ask prospects to book a demo, download content, or something equally beneficial.
3. Create a Script to Address Common Pain Points
Every sales conversation you (or your team) have with prospects will be different. But that doesn't mean you can't benefit from a simple sales script or two.
Here's what I suggest: create multiple scripts for a variety of scenarios.
For example, you can create two different scripts for inbound and outbound leads. A third script for phone conversations. A fourth script for email messaging purposes. You might want to create talk tracks to help overcome different objections or address specific pain points.
In fact, all of your scripts should address common pain points. As long as you've taken time to understand your audience, you should know exactly which ones to reference.
One more tip: create "loose" scripts. They should remind you of what to say, not provide you with stiff, rigid answers to potential questions. Also, they should allow for personalization. That way, you can build real relationships with potential customers and boost your close rate.
4. Build Relationships with Your Ideal Customers
Speaking of relationships, you have to build them.
Your conversational sales efforts will fall flat if you don't connect with prospects on a personal level and get to know them. The question is, how do you do this?
Start by choosing the right communication channels. Most B2B audiences spend time on LinkedIn. This is a great place to meet potential customers. Most B2C audiences prefer sites like Instagram and TikTok. Meet your ideal customers where they hang out online.
Looking for a more direct approach? Call or email your prospects and introduce yourself. Or reach out to website visitors via your company's favorite chat app.
Whatever you decide to do, focus on getting to know your prospects and adding value to your initial conversations with them. Don't immediately push for a sale. Let's talk more about that…
5. Choose the Right Time to Push for the Sale
The last thing you want to do is rush your prospects.
If you make them feel like potential sales instead of people, you won't be able to build quality relationships with them. And if you don't build quality relationships, you won't earn their trust.
So, it's important to choose the right moment in the customer journey to offer your products and/or services. When is that moment, you ask? After you've learned about your prospect's pain points and established yourself as a trusted authority in your industry. Pitch them at this stage of the sales funnel, and you'll have much more success—guaranteed.
6. Clarify Next Steps
You made your sales pitch. The prospect is interested, but isn't quite ready to pull the trigger. They need more time to think about their decision. Perfectly understandable.
Before you let your prospect go, tell them what to do next. You might ask them to sign up for a free product demo. Or download a case study from your website. Or connect you to their boss (depending on how their company usually handles the buying process.)
Then prepare to follow up with this prospect after an appropriate amount of time has passed—if you don't hear back from them first, of course.
There's that old saying, "The money is in the follow-up." It's so true. If you don't follow up with prospects, you'll leave a ton of cash on the table. No bueno.
Thankfully, CRM software and other tools can simplify the follow-up process. Program your app to send you notifications at predetermined intervals. That way, you don't forget to re-engage leads. Better yet, use automation to fire off follow-up sequences.
Follow up with existing customers, too. This will help them feel valued and reinforce the idea that you care about them, not just the revenue they represent. It will also give you more upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
8. Track Results + Optimize Your Conversational Selling Strategy
Is your conversational sales strategy working?
Take a look at your metrics to find out. Hopefully, you'll see your team's conversion rate and revenue numbers increase. You should see your average sales cycle length shrink, too.
Most of these KPIs can be tracked in a quality CRM platform. But if you want even more control over your metrics, look at the integrations available to you. Close, for example, connects with apps like Chartmogul and Dreamdata to give you deeper insights.
Once you know how you'll track your conversational selling efforts, take a look at the data and use it to optimize your approach. Test different tactics to see which performs best.
Win With Conversational Selling
Conversational selling is a viable approach to sales that helps reps build relationships with their ideal customers, learn about their pain points, and increase sales.
After reading this article, you know how to implement this strategy. Just get to know your target audience, develop loose sales scripts, learn when to push for the close, follow up consistently, optimize your efforts, and adhere to the other tips I shared with you.
Looking for a CRM solution that will make conversational sales easier and more effective? Look no further. Close is equipped with the features you need to succeed, including lead scoring tools, pipeline overview functionality, power and predictive dialers, email sequencing capabilities, automated reminders, and a whole lot more.
Sign up for a free trial of Close today, or watch our on-demand demo to see our industry-leading CRM in action!