September 3/10, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 6
By Lisbeth Calandrino
There are various types of conversations we all use to function in everyday life. When attempting to converse, whether person to person or in a group or organization, it is essential to understand the different types of conversations and how each type functions.
Informational conversation is what most people would define as conversing. It is the type of conversation that “gets beyond the gate keeper,” and this is important when it comes to establishing a level of trust or rapport before making a sale.
Informational conversation concentrates on exchanging facts and/or pieces of common information. These facts can be correct or incorrect but, most importantly, they are free of opinion or feeling from either of the participants. It is a low-risk conversation in that it reveals little or nothing about those involved.
The basic, informal “hello” gives a clear invitation to begin an informational conversation. It acknowledges that someone is responding on the other end of the phone in a polite and direct way. If the person smiles when saying “hello,” the person on the other end will hear the friendliness in the speaker’s voice.
A more formal greeting could do more to orient the caller into the conversation. Saying the company name first gives the caller a better idea of whom she is speaking to—for example, “Discount Carpet, Hillcrest branch, this is Juan, the manager speaking.” The caller is able to confirm she is calling the correct place and speaking to the person who can effectively deal with her problem.
If the caller requests to speak with someone else within the organization, the person answering the phone should reply courteously, “I can get them on the line in just a minute if you are willing to hold.” He then should wait for a response. If the caller agrees to hold, the employee should set the phone down with the speaker directed away from any noise and quietly get the person the caller is waiting for. If the business has phone extensions, he can easily transfer the call to the correct person and thank the caller for waiting.
Advising your sales associate to stop talking may seem counterintuitive to making a sale, but many salespeople often talk excessively and fail to listen to the customer. We often feel that we need to control the conversation, or we will lose the sale. However, the problem with constantly talking is you are unable to truly understand the underlying needs of the customer.
When qualifying a prospect, you are evaluating whether or not she is in a position to decide to buy your product. If you are talking to someone in an organization, it is important to speak only to the person who has the authority to finalize a purchase. If the person is not authorized to make a deal with you, then find out when the person who can close the deal is available and call back.
Once you have the person with authority on the line, inquire if he or she has the means to close the deal. This may involve finding out information about available funds on credit cards, lines of credit and monthly budget. Informational conversation is a great way to get the ball rolling.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.