Four Keys to Improving Your B2B Sales Productivity With More Meaningful Conversations

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Jim Ware @thefutureofwork wrote a thoughtful piece, recently on Conversations that Connect. Conversations shrouded with respect, curiosity, trust, integrity, openness, and a deep commitment to engaging. The kind we often have, instinctively, with those who are closest to us but often struggle to have with folks whom we’ve never had a conversation with before. He identifies four keys to initiating meaningful conversations with strangers.

First, have an eagerness to learn. This rule’s akin to the Rookie Smarts that @LizWiseman writes about in her book on the topic. It’s a learning, thru questioning, regime that folks instinctively bring to any new role: always asking for help, being comfortable outside their comfort zone, and asking innocent but probing questions, born of what you don’t yet know.

Second, listen more than you talk. With silences that patiently invite responses.

Third, ask open-ended questions. Reflecting a genuine curiosity to know more. “The best way to extend a conversation, and to genuinely connect with someone, is to keep asking more clarifying questions”.

Fourth, use ‘reflective listening’ to feed back not just what you’ve heard, but also your thoughtful sense of the emotional meaning of what the other person’s shared with you. Done with genuine empathy. It requires that you not just hear ‘facts’. But that you understand ‘story’. The other person’s story.

He concludes by noting the power of asking open-ended questions that get to the heart of the other person’s ‘story’. Such as: “if I really knew you, what would I know.”

We’re seeing proof, in B2B sales, that practices like these matter.

Meaningful conversations with prospects yield more next conversations with them. It takes practice, and it can be hard work. But it’s incredibly rewarding, and productivity improving, when done well.

So … think back to a 1st conversation you had a prospect this past week. What did you learn about their situation? What proof do you have that, if asked, they’d say you ‘heard them’.

Perfecting practices takes practice. Try practices like the above. Do so in ways that make your conversations with buyers, next week, more engaging for them and more learning inducing for you.

You’ll see for yourself how it improves you ‘next conversation’ yields.

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