Business Conversation

Video: Three Steps to More Productive Business Conversations

While nearly every sales person has been taught the importance of understanding their buyer’s business, few actually do this effectively. In this video we’ll talk about why that is and three simple steps any organization can take to help their people have more productive business conversations.

During this session, we will discuss:

  • Why salespeople struggle to have productive business conversations

  • Three steps organizations can take to equip salespeople to have more rich, meaningful business conversations

  • A visual model for how businesses operate and make decisions

  • A model for effective follow up questions

  • How every business issue represents an opportunity to differentiate ourselves and our solution


Handling buyer objections doesn’t need to derail your sales opportunity. These three proven steps can help you better address any objection from any buyer.

Click here to sign up complementary access to our online learning for how businesses make decisions and the DIG questioning model.

Customer Conversation

The 5 Customer Conversations Top Salespeople Master

It amazes me when another new sales training program is launched, or a book is written. Sales performance is so important to both individual salespeople and the companies that employ them that there is a seemingly insatiable appetite for some unique competitive advantage. This creates tremendous opportunities for sales training companies and would-be sales experts who promise the latest, greatest tactics.

But is there really something new? Has buyer behavior changed so much that a radically new approach is necessary?

How Buyer Behavior Has, and Has Not Changed

  • Buyers spend more time than ever before evaluating products and services online before, and in many cases, while speaking with a salesperson. In fact, more than 90% of all B2B purchase decisions begin with an online search and many buyers won’t speak with sellers until they do their own research.

  • Buyers have access to more information, from a variety of sources, than ever before. In other words, salespeople rarely control the information available to buyers about the products and services offered.

  • Online review sites and social networking allow buyers access to unvarnished views about products and services. Salespeople no longer control references to the extent the once did.

  • As a result, buyers are better informed about the products and services they are evaluating than ever before.

Given that the explosion of e-commerce also means we can buy many things online, without speaking with a salesperson, this begs the question; why do buyers meet with salespeople at all? In reality, the reason buyers speak with salespeople hasn’t really changed so much as their access to information has made it even more clear what they want and need from sales interactions:

  • While buyers may have gathered enough information to narrow their available options to a manageable list of a few companies with which they will speak, they may not be clear which of these alternatives is actually best.

  • Buyers speak with salespeople from these companies because they need help making their decision or figuring out what is best.

  • Salespeople who act as expert decision consultants bring value beyond their products and services, they don’t just help buyers get comfortable the company’s solution, they help them get comfortable with THEIR decision.

Five Essential Conversations

Salespeople who do a better job of helping buyer’s get clear about and comfortable with their decision provide immense value that extends beyond the products and services they offer. So how do salespeople engage effectively with buyers who already have access to so much information, but still need help determining what’s best for them? In reality, there are now, always have been, and likely always will be just five essential customer conversations that every salesperson should master if they want to differentiate themselves from their competitors, build stronger, longer-lasting relationships, and sell dramatically more. Without further adieu, here are the Five Essential Sales Conversations:

1. Generating Interest

Nothing new here. No matter what we sell or to whom we sell it, we need someone willing to talk with us to demonstrate the value we can provide. While social media channels like LinkedIn have created new avenues to reach prospects, they have enabled so much content and clutter that generating interest can be extremely difficult.

To capture the attention of today’s busy buyers, we need a compelling reason for them to spend time with us.

And this requires that we already know something about them — some way in which we can bring meaningful value that helps them. Unfortunately, far too many salespeople pitch a generic value proposition to every prospect they contact. A little energy spent finding a significant problem we can solve or an obstacle we can remove goes a long way toward generating enough interest to spark a meaningful conversation.

2. Understanding the Current Situation

Assuming we have engaged a key contact in a meaningful conversation, we must be experts at efficiently understanding their current situation. This doesn’t mean we should be asking the CEO of State Farm what business they’re in. It means digging into key areas related to the impact we can have on their success to uncover the most significant opportunities to help them better achieve their goals, execute their plans, leverage their strengths, minimize weaknesses, and so on.

If the key to generating interest is finding a meaningful issue you can help a prospect address, the key to developing a deeper understanding of their business is to have a clear questioning model that helps us understand their issues, how these issues are impacting their success and any gaps between where they are and where they want to be.

3. Developing Decision Criteria

A significant proportion of all sales training is based on needs-satisfaction selling. Identifying needs is absolutely important, however it is not sufficient for today’s sales professional. If a buyer is willing to meet with us and have customer conversations that matter, there is a very high likelihood that they:

  • Already believe we are one of several providers who can MEET their needs

  • Need help figuring out which alternative is BEST

Questions here must be designed to help buyers figure this out and help them make the best possible decision for their business. When skilled salespeople understand their prospect’s current situation and the characteristics that differentiate one solution from the others, this step becomes the key to dramatically better sales results.

At the end of the buying journey, nearly every prospect will choose the alternative they believe to be best for their situation. And most salespeople spend tremendous energy at the end of the process telling their prospects why they, the salespeople, believe they have the best solution. A far better approach is to help shape the buyer’s criteria at the beginning of their journey. In reality, most buyers don’t have clearly defined or differentiating criteria – if they did, they would simply make their decision, often without even meeting with salespeople. The seller who can master this conversation and leverage what they know about the buyer’s current situation, combined with an understanding of their competitive advantages, can help the buyer and themselves.

4. Presenting Recommendations

Once we’ve generated interest, learned about our prospect’s current situation, and developed clear, differentiating decision criteria, we are ready to present recommendations. Here it is critical that we fully understand what motivates behavior – something that hasn’t changed about people for thousands of years.

We are wired to do more to avoid near-term pain than to pursue distant pleasure.

When presenting recommendations, it is essential that we do not focus on the benefits (pleasure) our solution will bring, as that is comparing future pleasure (benefits we offer) to near-term pain (the cost of our solution, risk of change, etc.). Instead, we need to show the pain of not implementing our recommendation in terms of the negative impact the current or competing alternative may have on the buyer in terms of the things they care about most, such as:

  • Their productivity and efficiency

  • The image they project to their people and customers

  • Their revenue

  • Their expenses

  • The safety, security, and stability of their organization, their information, and their people

When we demonstrate to prospects how our solutions better address their criteria and have greater impact on these key areas, we are set to help them develop complete comfort with their decision and win at a dramatically higher rate

5. Addressing Concerns

Now for a dose of reality. No matter how effectively we execute the previous four conversations, we still need to address customer concerns. Note, we aren’t referring to this conversation as overcoming objections. Sales training programs have put too much pressure on sellers to overcome a buyer’s objections for too long. That isn’t the objective here; it can ruin the trust built up during the other conversations.

Remember, our only purpose in their journey is to help them figure this out. That same principle applies to this step. To achieve this objective, we need to get out of the telling mode and get into the learning mode. We need to completely understand the concern from their perspective, including how significant this issue is and whether or not this is one of several issues or the only thing standing between them and what they otherwise want to do. We then need to engage in a collaborative session where we both contribute potential ideas to determine what can be done to remove this issue.

We are here to help, but ultimately, only the buyer can decide what must be done to address a concern. However, our skill at leading them through this conversation can make all the difference between addressing a simple issue and facing an insurmountable objection. As we consider these five essential conversations, it is important to remember these three key points:

  1. A proper attitude can be as important as skill and knowledge. When salespeople don’t fully embrace their role of bringing value to buyers, no set of skills or techniques can help them build the trust needed to reach their full potential.
  2. These conversations are interrelated, not linear. This isn’t a set of steps to follow, and what happens in one conversation can have tremendous impact on the others. For example, it is not at all uncommon to find the only way to address a buyer’s concerns is to develop a better understanding of their current situation or further develop decision criteria.
  3. Customer conversations models and practice are invaluable in helping us master these essential conversations. Teams with a common understanding of the objectives of these conversations and shared models for how the objectives will be achieved become significantly more effective than individuals working on their own.

Want to learn more? Axiom provides a unique alternative to traditional sales training. Unlike traditional sales training events, we embed our methodology into your sales cadence, delivering dramatically better sales results. To learn more about our Mindful Selling Methodology, Kinetics Sales Effectiveness Platform, or our unique, guaranteed approach, please visit us at