Sales Conversations: Let Go of Control and Get More From Prospects


It may seem counterproductive to let go of control in sales conversations. Isn’t the point of a sales conversation to close a deal by moving prospects to become customers and to do this then salespeople have to be in control, right?

Yes, and here is the most important point – Salespeople often confuse controlling a conversation with meeting only their objective of selling and forgetting that they are in a relationship with a prospect who is as much a person as a buyer.

When a sales person ignores, overlooks, or undervalues a prospect’s humanity in the conversation then they are at great risk of losing a prospect’s trust. Just like anybody, prospects really dislike attempts by sales people to control too much of the conversation.

Here are four ways to let go of control during your sales conversations with prospects.

I. Pay attention to your impulses – Due to a number of reasons, some sales people want to talk more than their prospect.

The biggest misstep that a sales person can make is talking too much at the beginning of starting a relationship with a prospect. Ask, “Are you really wanting to make a point to address something your prospect told you and you’re finding it hard to stay quiet to listen?”

II. Establish a way for prospects to say "no" – Who wants to hear a ‘No’? Not many people; especially sales people.

The biggest misstep that a sales person can make is limiting how a prospect can answer a question so that the prospect feels boxed in and pressured toward a ‘Yes.’ Ask, “Have you given your prospect an opportunity to tell you something that would translate as No, Not buying now”.

III. Drop the need to be right – It is human nature to want to be right. It feels good to us to be right about something. Sales people are no different especially when they believe strongly in their product.

The biggest misstep that a sales person can make is to stop asking questions to a prospect because they assume they know the answer. Ask, “Can you identify a point in your discussion that you are pushing to persuade your prospect that your product is right for her?”

IV. Make space for the prospect's idiosyncrasies – Selling is all about a relationship with someone. Prospects are people who sometimes have habits and behavioral quirks that salespeople need to work with when speaking with them.

The biggest misstep that a sales person can make is ignoring important insights that can be gained by observing their prospects. Ask, “Have you been in a conversation and a prospect did or said something that was irrelevant to your discussion?” For example, a prospect blurts out information about something personal or checks her phone so much that she is hardly in the conversation.

Since selling is all about a relationship, these four ways of interacting with a prospect give space to the humanity that is a part of sales. In letting go of much of what they want to control, salespeople gain more trust from prospects because the salesperson has validated their individuality.

Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go. — Hermann Hesse, Swiss poet and novelist #quote Click To Tweet

Sales Tip: Try letting go of control once you have established a direction for your conversation to take with someone. One way that you can achieve this is by staying curious about your prospect. Curiosity thrives in an uncontrolled space.

Tonya Harvey grew up on Army posts around the U.S. Her career started in male dominated sales, where she learned all the sales tactics that are awkward for women. Today, the mission of her sales consultancy and training company is to “change views of selling.”

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