Selling — 3 Conversations We Need To Change

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“Sometimes being different feels a lot like being alone.”

–     Lindsey Stirling (b. 1986), pop violinist, entertainer and trendsetter in musical performance

If we’re willing, being transparent — being different and feeling alone — is the best way to change the conversation.  It can be the best way to draw a team together for the common good.  It can darn sure be the best way to draw a prospect into a deeper conversation.  Combining today’s post with Monday and Tuesday’s gets us over the hump in our five-part series during #salesweek.  When we free ourselves from the script we become genuinely transparent and Tom-Bodett-real.  When we’re intentionally, relentlessly and selflessly curious we’re in a better position to change the conversation.  And, when we change the conversation, we become, by Seth Godin’s definition, remarkable.

“Ask dumb questions, propose dumb solutions,” suggests Patrick Lencioni, in “Getting Naked; A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty,” one of his fantastic business fables.

That’s just one way to change the conversation, and there are three conversations we need to change.

The first is the conversation inside our own head.  The things that we tell ourselves, the things we assume and the perspectives / opinions that we have must be challenged, and the best person to challenge them is us.  It makes those around us more comfortable with the idea of changing the conversation in their heads, which tees up the second conversation we need to change…

The conversations in our team.  Challenge the team to take on different roles, especially in a planning or brainstorming session.  If Joe is always the voice of reason, we’re missing the opportunity for Joe to ask dumb questions or propose dumb solutions, the kind that makes the rest of us approach the matter from a different perspective.  If Tammy is always the “Hey, what if…?” person, having her adopt the voice of reason might be powerful.  It’s not about playing “devil’s advocate” either, it’s about altering the way we see and process information.  It’s about challenging the status quo with the intent of improving it.  It likely won’t be easy the first few times we engage, either…but the best stuff is rarely easy!

Here’s one idea.  We all know “where we sit” in meetings, right?  It’s pretty common for the boss to sit in his or her seat, and the rest of us to sit in ours, even though there are no seats assigned.  Want to get a start on changing the conversation?  The next time that meeting starts, have everyone move to a different seat.  You may be surprised; a) at the initial level of discomfort and b) at the long-term benefit and impact on perspective — the free-flow of new ideas — simply by altering the locations in the room from which the conversations flow.

Finally, our ultimate goal has to be to change the conversation in our market.  If we’re a market leader, it’s particularly important, because, as Ries and Trout taught us way back in 1987, only the leader should attack the leader directly.  If we’re not the leader, we need to change the conversation to be about the prospect, yet in the context that brings them closer to us, our solution, our ideas – our manner of making a difference for them.

When we talk to ourselves differently, and we talk with one another differently, we’ll be ready to engage the market differently, and the market will respond.

Changing the conversation is table stakes for professional salespeople.  Changing the conversation makes a difference.


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