Sales Conversation Tactics: Life Behind the Mask


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Sales conversation tactics that can create a bond with your customers.

Human interaction around the world has changed. While there are different views and opinions regarding the wearing of masks for public safety, we will not be discussing those in this article. This article will address our personal interactions and communication in a world where much of the time, we are communicating with half of our faces covered. Aside from being unable to emote in the same manner as we normally would during person-to-person interactions, personal interactions themselves have decreased due to social distancing. When we are in public (and 6 feet away from one another), we cannot always easily tell what emotion is being displayed by those around us.

This is a very confusing time for nonverbal communication. It is my experience that people in public are spending less time on eye contact; I believe that there is a hesitancy to lock eyes with someone if you cannot see their entire face. Some may feel social awkwardness, while others may fear being misinterpreted since the remainder of their face is not visible. Most people can smile with their eyes, but that takes a bit more time of direct eye contact to see the difference between the resting eyes and the smiling eyes.

Acknowledging someone with a simple smile will positively impact that person at that moment in time. Introverts and extroverts alike are now navigating a different world of reduced personal interactions. Some introverts are comforted not by the public and personal safety aspect but by reducing personal interactions with strangers. Others feel stifled and frustrated about the lack of interactions.

Let’s face it, walking around with a mask on allows us to not acknowledge those around us and not have any ill feelings or regret. I don’t see that as a good trend. Humans are social creatures by nature. Even the most introverted folks have their small group of trusted individuals with whom they choose to interact.

With nonverbal communication being as limited as it is, it has become even more important than those who interact via telephone step up our game. When things are being restricted or taken away, people tend to crave what they cannot have. Many seem to be yearning for some sense of normalcy and connections.

The best connection possible

It’s a great time for sales reps (inside reps especially) to be that connection and employ conversation tactics that create a bond with the customers that you serve. Making the best connection possible for every customer interaction is not as difficult as it may seem. There are some proven techniques that we all regularly employ without even thinking about it. We often do not even realize what we are doing when we are at our best with communications and connections. Here are some reminders of things that you do daily that make your best interactions effortless.

The first thing you must do is make certain that the customer understands and feels that they have your undivided attention. This is accomplished by a series of small gestures and tactics. Acknowledgments are the beginning of a good connection and conversation. An acknowledgment can be as simple as a nod, a smile, a look of surprise, or a one-word response to what you just heard. Acknowledgments are used in conversations to show that you are paying attention to your customer. They are also used to show that they have your attention and that you are engaged with them. Acknowledging another person correctly in a conversation conveys to them that you are interested in  connecting with them. You are interested in their topic.

Aligning with the customer is also a necessary tactic to employ for a successful connection.  Once you have a connection, it’s important to let the customer know that you hear and understand the information they’re conveying to you. Many of us enter conversations with a purpose. We often have our own agenda for the call. Some of us even think about what we will say next while the other person is still talking to us. The more you let the customers lead the conversation, they will typically respond with additional time and attention for you to convey your topics during the call. Psychological reciprocity is an authentic idea that states that we give back what we have been given. By emphasizing the customers and their objectives, you will typically be rewarded with more of their attention.

You are ready to engage at their level of commitment to the conversation. As you establish a good connection of respect and interest, it’s important to allow your customer to be who they are and follow rather than lead them. If they are fast-paced and sound rushed, mirror their pace, and acknowledge that they sound like they are ready to get things moving. If they are slower paced and require additional details or information, acknowledge by asking supportive questions. “Did I answer your questions?” “Is there anything else that I can tell you about …” The objective is to connect with the customers using their perspective and not your own. This not only starts the dialogue on the right track, but it also shows that you are interested in what they have to say and how they would like to receive information.

Being very intentional with your approach to every conversation can make you a more successful inside salesperson. The more you allow people to be who they want to be, the more they will want to work with you. There are many more tactics and tips associated with creating the perfect sales call. Just remember that these are not tricks. The practice of acknowledging and aligning is done by all of us every day. Make a conscious effort to practice these two simple concepts, and you will see the difference that it will make for you. It is the basic concept of giving respect to get respect. It works!

About the author

Todd Brodersen President of Same Page Consulting Inc.

Photo credit: istockphoto.com/RS74