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Reading Between the Lines in Sales Conversations

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  • 0:03 A Sales Conversation
  • 1:37 Nonverbal Communication
  • 2:39 Reading Between the Lines
  • 3:34 Reading Between the…
  • 4:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

In this lesson, learn strategies you can employ to read between the lines in a sales conversation. Discover which questions you can ask and what to look for to find out what your potential customer isn't willing to voice.

A Sales Conversation

As a sales professional, you want your sales calls to be successful. The question is, how can you do that? It's all about how you handle your sales conversations. And it's not just about listening to the words that your potential customer is speaking. No, it actually involves a little bit more, as you'll learn in this lesson.

For example, in a sales conversation, your potential customer might say something like he really couldn't spend that much on such a product like that right now. What does this potential customer actually mean by that? This statement doesn't really tell you much. Your potential customer might be hesitant to tell you what's truly preventing him or her from purchasing the product. This potential customer might have already told you that he or she really likes the product and could use it at home. But, by giving you this statement, your potential customer is letting you down softly.

If you take the statement at face value, then you probably will lose a sale. If you probe a little further and read between the lines, so to speak, you just might be able to find the true reason behind this seeming sales fail. Probing a little further, you just might find that your potential customer is actually telling you that, yes, your product is cool, but not cool enough for him to spend that much on it. Perhaps if you discounted the price, then you would get a sale. Or perhaps you can show that this product can do even more than what your potential customer realizes. Once you know the true reason, then you can work with it.

To read between the lines means to find the true meaning behind what is said. Not all people will say what is truly on their minds, but there are techniques you can use to help you find the true meaning. This will help you increase the success of your sales conversations.

Nonverbal Communication

The biggest helper you have when reading between the lines is nonverbal communication, or unspoken communication. This includes body language and facial expressions. This is why in-person sales are always more successful than telephone sales. Just think about the last time a telemarketer called you and you were happy to hear from them and actually bought something from them. Yeah, it doesn't happen very often, does it? But how often have you gone into a store and purchased something you didn't plan on purchasing from a salesperson? It's pretty likely you've probably done this at one time or another.

So, as a sales professional yourself, you should strive to make sales calls in person as much as possible. If you can't meet in person, then try to do it via a video chat service such as Skype or FaceTime. That way, you'll be able to see the facial expressions and body language of your potential customer. You'll be able to see how he or she reacts to your words and questions. For example, if you say something that seems to deter your potential customer, you'll see a negative nonverbal reaction. You'll see positive body language if your potential customer likes what you're saying.

Reading Between the Lines

So, how do you figure all this out?

There are some standard cues that most people display in similar situations. For example, in most cultures, a frown means you don't like what is being discussed at the moment. And yes, that's right, you need to take into account the culture of your potential customer because culture can affect body language and other nonverbal cues. Someone averting eye contact in one culture means respect while it means disinterest in another. So, if you are speaking to someone from a different culture, do some homework first on that culture to see if they have any differing nonverbal cues from yours.

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