Preparing for Effective Sales Conversations

In their book, The Collaborative Sale: Solution Selling in a Buyer-Driven World, my colleagues Keith Eades and Tim Sullivan describe how high-performing sellers excel at engaging in consultative conversations with buyers. These conversations enable buyers to clearly visualize a solution to their problems, making it much easier for them to buy. We call those sellers who can engage in these kinds of valuable conversations Visualizers.

Visualizers engage in conversations with buyers to create, enhance or reengineer visions of a potential solution. They use a collaborative approach to work with buyers and arrive at a mutually agreed-upon and optimal answer to a critical business issue or potential missed opportunity.

Effective sales conversations generally follow a pattern, beginning with acknowledgement of a buyer’s pain – a critical business issue, problem, or potential missed opportunity. The seller can then explore the reasons for that pain with the buyer, as well as their business impact or scope. Then, they can discuss potential capabilities that could provide relief. At the end of a good sales conversation, both the buyer and seller will have a clear vision of a potential solution.

Pre-Sales Conversation Preparation

In order to conduct effective sales conversations, Visualizers prepare for them in advance. They must be ready bring their own perspectives and insights, so they can add value to the ideas that buyers may already have in mind. In a collaborative sales conversation, Visualizers ask insightful questions, and demonstrate an understanding of the buyer’s situation and how it might be improved.

To assist sellers in preparing for collaborative sales conversations, we have prepared a simple planning tool, the Sales Conversation Prompter. It can be used to prepare insightful questions in advance, and to document potential capabilities which may address the buyer’s problem. You can download this planning template here.

Sales conversations can be greatly improved with even a small amount of advance planning and preparation. Buyers expect sellers to bring valuable insight and perspectives, to help them develop and refine their own ideas for potential solutions to their problems. Sellers who simply “wing it” and engage in undisciplined sales conversations with buyers without a clear structure or direction, or those who rely on a canned pitch, are quickly exposed and discarded by today’s more educated and empowered buyers.

Those sellers who take the time to think about buyers’ problems in advance and come prepared to diagnose the reasons for buyers’ problems, and then offer useful ideas on how to address them, are considered valuable assets – and are much more likely to win buyers’ business.

If your sales team is having trouble conducting effective sales conversations consistently, we can help. Contact us for a complimentary consultation at +1 (704) 227-6500, or by email to

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